A Sierra Vista couple pleaded guilty Friday to marijuana trafficking and money laundering for 12 years, during which time they accumulated several properties and vehicles.

Husband and wife, Juan Manuel Alvarado-Fajardo and Neriah Kidebar Morin-Alvarado, each pleaded guilty in Cochise County Superior Court to one count of conducting a criminal enterprise between January 2000 through October 2012.

"The couple admitted they engaged in money laundering and transporting marijuana in order to sell it," Stephanie Grisham, spokeswoman for the Arizona Attorney General's office, said in a news release. "The investigation revealed they had amassed a large amount of property and wealth through their illegal activities by laundering the proceeds of their drug transactions through the purchase of several properties in the Sierra Vista area."

A search warrant issued in October 2012 revealed that the Alvarados had $98,600 cash in a safety deposit box at a local bank, and their savings account held more than $35,000.

Along with the cash, the couple had 10 vehicles registered to them and owned 11 properties in the Sierra Vista area.

The plea agreement entered by the couple required them to forfeit eight vehicles, 10 properties, and all of the cash that was seized, Grisham said.

The couple will be sentenced Sept. 12. They each face a minimum of probation or a maximum term of imprisonment of almost nine years.

The case was a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Special Investigation Section of the Arizona Attorney General's Office with assistance from U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, the Sierra Vista Police Department, the Bisbee Police Department, the Cochise County Sheriff's Department and the Office of Inspector General for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Grisham said.

Kimberly Matas