Grand Jury Indicts St. Louis Man and Others in International Drug Ring
ST. LOUIS – A federal grand jury indicted Derek Rockette of St. Louis for charges that include conspiracy to distribute and to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and fentanyl. The indictment also alleges in a money laundering conspiracy charge that Rockette, Norma Corina Armenta-Lizarraga, Jian Zhong Fang, Yuede Zheng and Wai Ming Mak conducted financial transactions affecting interstate and foreign commerce, which involved the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity, that is conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
Beginning about 2016, Rockette was involved in the distribution of controlled substances, including cocaine and fentanyl. Rockette owed a substantial drug debt to the source of supply in Mexico for controlled substances which had been fronted to him. This debt would vary as payments were made and new drug shipments were sent to Rockette.
The indictment alleges that several methods of money laundering were used by those in the conspiracy. One such method was the use of ATMs throughout the St. Louis area to make deposits of cash drug payments. More than $8,500,000 was deposited in ATMs in approximately 14 states into one of two accounts between June 4, 2018 and Sept. 12, 2019. The money was then transferred to banks in Mexico.
The indictment further alleges that Rockette possessed a firearm, and was previously convicted of crimes that prohibited possession of firearms.
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations.
This effort is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.
Charges set forth in the indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.