Man Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Funneling Sinaloa Cartel Money Through SA Real Estate

A former San Antonio real estate mogul and one-time film investor was sentenced Wednesday to just over five years in federal prison for laundering drug money for the infamous Sinaloa Cartel — lead by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

Guadalajara native Mauricio Sánchez Garza pleaded guilty last October to laundering money with his brother Alejandro through various businesses in and around San Antonio area — including 37 acres of property off Babcock Road and the now-closed Barbaresco Tuscan Grill and Enoteca, a swanky San Pedro Italian restaurant. Prosecutors said the two brothers acted as a "clean front" for the Sinaloa cartel, using their various investments and community presence to disguise the dirty cartel dollars filtering through San Antonio. Alejandro was sentenced to two and half years in federal prison for his crimes in 2014.

Mauricio, officially sentenced to 63 months behind bars and three years of supervised release, had used the profits from his illicit laundering to dabble in the film industry, buying the rights to Mary, Mother of Christ, a proposed prequel to Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. However, Mauricio dropped the project in 2008 after a disagreement with his co-investor — which ended with Mauricio dramatically kidnapping the man's brother. The film never saw the light of day.

Maurico fled to Mexico after learning he was the focus of a federal investigation prosecution in 2010. According to the feds, he was extradited to the United States in July 2016 — and in federal custody in Texas ever since.