LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A North Hollywood man was sentenced today to nine years behind bars for plotting to smuggle more than 88 pounds of cocaine concealed and suspended in grease in household products that were mailed to Australia, then laundering up to $3.5 million of the proceeds.
Vardges Markosyan -- who pleaded guilty to a two-count criminal information in November that charged him with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to engage in money laundering -- admitted that from December 2014 until October 2016, he was involved in a drug conspiracy that procured cocaine and shipped it to Australia.
The drugs would be suspended in grease and placed in empty household products such as log splitters, air compressors, tankless water heaters, lamp stands and air conditioners, according to the plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Court papers state that the shipped packages were sent via commercial carrier to Australia, where they were then distributed.
Markosyan, 47, also admitted that he conspired with his sister, Iren Markosyan, to launder the proceeds between May 2014 and January 2019. Markosyan admitted that he used his sister's name -- with her knowledge -- to purchase properties in North Hollywood and Studio City.
The Markosyans obtained hard-money loans secured against these properties, and spent the net proceeds of the loans after transferring them to various accounts, according to court papers.
Vardges Markosyan received $234,442 from the sale of the North Hollywood property, according to federal prosecutors. He has agreed to forfeit to the U.S. government his interest in the Studio City property, held in his sister's name, as well as a 1996 Carver 38 boat and a 2005 Caribe boat also held in her name, prosecutors said.
For her role in the scheme, Iren Markosyan pleaded guilty last year to one felony count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. As part of her deal, she agreed to forfeit the Studio City property, as well as a judgment in the amount of $234,442, and her interest in the aforementioned boats. Her sentencing date has not been set.