STUDIO CITY—A North Hollywood man has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for plotting to smuggle more than 88 pounds of cocaine and laundering the proceeds of $3.5 million, prosecutors announced on Friday, February 21.
Vardges Markosyan, 47, admitted that from December 2014 up to October 2016, he was involved in a drug smuggling conspiracy to procure cocaine and ship it to Australia. The cocaine was suspended in grease and stored in empty household products such as tankless water heaters, lamp stands and air conditioners. Test packages were mailed to see if they could reach their destination undetected. According to court documents, these packages were shipped to Australia where they were distributed. The value of the amount of cocaine shipped is at least $7 million.
Markosyan’s sister, Iren, help to launder the proceeds between May 2014 and January 2019. The siblings ran a scheme securing loans against homes in North Hollywood and Studio City. Markosyan admitted he used his sister’s name, with her knowledge to purchase the properties.
The net proceeds of these loans were spent after they were transferred to various accounts. Prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo, “Because these loans essentially liquidated the illicit proceeds that were used to purchase these homes, there was never an intent to pay these loans back.”
Vardges received $234,442 from the sale of the North Hollywood property. He agreed to forfeit his interest earned at the Studio City property which was held in Iren’s name.
Iren pled guilty in 2019 to one felony count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. She agreed to forfeit the Studio City property, as well as paying a judgment of $234,442.
She is also forfeiting interest she earned on a 1996 Carver 38 boat and a 2005 Carver boat. Iren faces up to 20 years in prison.