BEAUMONT, Texas – A 41-year-old Houston man has been
sentenced to federal prison for drug trafficking and money laundering
violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Joseph D.
John D. Leontaritis, owner and
operator of Vanderhall Exotics of Houston, and former owner operator of Global
Motorcars of Houston, car dealerships that specialized in exotic, luxury
automobiles, was found guilty by a jury on Dec. 4, 2018 of conspiracy to
possess with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine, as well
as, conspiracy to commit money laundering, which were committed from 2013 to
2017 in both the Houston and Beaumont areas. Today, he was sentenced to 240
months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone.
According to information presented in court, Leontaritis acted as a financier in a large-scale Houston-based drug
trafficking organization that was distributing large amounts of drugs from
Mexico to various cities in the United States for several years. Specifically,
Leontaritis laundered drug profits through his luxury automobile dealership in
Houston by accepting cash from known drug dealers in return for luxury
vehicles. As part of the conspiracy, he used fraudulent dealer invoices to hide
the true identity of the buyers from law enforcement. The conspiracy
spanned many years and involved hundreds of kilograms of methamphetamine, and
millions of dollars laundered through the dealership.
The court sentenced Leontaritis to 240 months (20 years) on each count
to run concurrent and those sentences to run consecutive to a Southern District
of Texas federal conviction for theft of public money in 2018.
help launder drug money are critical to the conspiracies that allow the drug
trade to operate,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “Law enforcement
worked very hard, and stayed after this case doggedly to make sure every
participant was prosecuted.”
“Today’s lengthy prison sentence for John Leontaritis is another example of how
aiding and abetting a drug trafficker can be just as risky as drug trafficking
itself,” said Houston DEA Special Agent in Charge Will R. Glaspy. “We
will investigate and prosecute anyone who supports these criminal enterprises.”
This case is the result of an extensive joint investigation by the Organized
Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The principal mission of the
OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug
trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those
primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
This case was
investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Houston Police
Department and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and
prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michelle S. Englade and Michael