ST. LOUIS – Rita Aramyan of Las Vegas, Nevada, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Aramyan appeared today before United States District Court Judge Ronnie L. White.
Beginning in April 2013 and ending around May 2019, Aramyan was part of a drug trafficking organization that conspired to distribute multi-kilogram quantities of marijuana from sources of supply based in California and launder the proceeds. In total, the organization distributed more than 3,000 kilograms of marijuana to various cities across the United States, including St. Louis, and laundered more than $1.5 million in drug proceeds.
During the course of the conspiracy, Aramyan couriered between 700 and 1,000 kilograms of bulk marijuana from Las Vegas to various cities including St. Louis, Missouri. The marijuana was smuggled in luggage carried on to commercial flights. In one instance, Aramyan was arrested in Fresno, California in possession of approximately 100 pounds of bulk marijuana obtained from the source of supply and destined for the organization. Aramyan also stored bulk cash and marijuana at her residence in Las Vegas for the organization. During a search warrant at her residence in March 2018, investigators located two money counters and $140,000 in cash. Finally, Aramyan utilized “Vanilla Visa” credit cards purchased with marijuana proceeds to buy flights for other couriers to deliver marijuana and proceeds.
Aramyan also aided in laundering marijuana proceeds for the organization. Aramyan collected proceeds from various cities, including St. Louis, and delivered them back to the organization in Las Vegas. The cash was smuggled inside luggage carried on to commercial airlines. In September 2017, investigators seized $50,000 of marijuana proceeds from Aramyan’s luggage as she attempted to board a plane in St. Louis destined for Las Vegas. The organization laundered marijuana proceeds through purchases of real estate, luxury vehicles (such as a Lamborghini Aventador), and a business among other means. Aramyan acted as a “straw” purchaser for two residential properties in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service, and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen Casey and Erin Granger are handling the case.