Scott County

Jury: Kentucky woman laundered money through banks; 1 million stashed in vehicles, house

Smirna Ortiz
Smirna Ortiz Woodford County jail

A federal jury found a Kentucky woman guilty of being part of a money-laundering conspiracy in which the government seized more than $1 million in suspected drug proceeds.

Smirna Ortiz, 27, was found guilty Tuesday at the conclusion of a two-day trial in U.S. District Court in Lexington. She faces up to 20 years in prison and up to three years of supervised release.

Five other defendants that were indicted as a result of the investigation had entered guilty pleas before the trial.

The government said Ortiz was part of a money-laundering cell that began in August 2016 and continued into April 2017 in Scott County. The co-conspirators deposited cash from drug proceeds into multiple bank accounts at multiple branches in Tennessee and North Carolina.

The government said Ortiz was among the co-conspirators who prepared the drug proceeds for deposit and made sure that they were less than $10,000 so as not to prompt a bank report.

Ortiz was arrested in April 2017 after police seized $575,440 in cash during a November 2016 search of a tractor-trailer cab parked at the Horse Park Travel Center/Shell gas station on Iron Works Pike in Scott County, according to a DEA agent’s affidavit filed in court.

The truck driver admitted to the DEA agent and others that he was a contract drug-money courier who was working for an organization in southern Texas.

Investigators later found an additional $297,880 during a Feb. 2, 2017, traffic stop of a van in Shelby County. Another seizure in Lexington yielded $302,150 from a residence on Mount Tabor Road.

U.S. District Court Judge Danny Reeves scheduled sentencing for Nov. 2. Ortiz is in the Woodford County jail.