Agents seize $1.8 million in drug money from Avondale home

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Federal agents dismantled a drug trafficking organization by seizing nearly $2 million in cash, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Pedro Aviles-Contreras, 34, Luis Nevares-Meneses, 27, and Francisco Sanchez-Torres, 41, all of Mexico, were arrested on Nov. 11 at a residence in Avondale. Agents seized more than $1.8 million in U.S. currency from the home.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment against the three men for conspiracy to possess and distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The indictment alleges that the defendants used cell phones to distribute cocaine to customers in the United States. The proceeds from the sales were then funneled to Mexico.

"This seizure successfully stops this organization from being able to pay for its money couriers, load drivers, stash houses, load vehicles, access to transportation routes or most importantly -- illegal narcotics," said U.S Attorney Dennis K. Burke.

If convicted, the defendants could face life in prison, a $4 million fine or both.