Currency brokers suspected of laundering

March 20, 2013 at 1:30 PM
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MIAMI, March 20 (UPI) -- Two Mexican currency brokers arrested in south Florida are suspected of laundering millions of U.S. dollars to help pay illegal aliens, officials say.

Federal agents say the network that exchanged Mexican pesos for U.S. currency may have been funded by drug profits from Latin American cartels, The Miami Herald reported.

One of the brokers, Martin Diaz, 40, was arraigned Tuesday before a federal magistrate in Miami on charges of conspiring to launder U.S. money to "harbor illegal aliens," in this country.

The other man, Enrique Guerra, 39, is scheduled for arraignment March 28.

The defendants, who were arrested earlier this month while driving in Hialeah, are being held without bond.

Agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in an affidavit Diaz and Guerra used a transportation company, Enfoque Potosino, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, to move the bulk cash to the United States. They also set up another business in El Paso, Texas, to assist in shipping the currency and to control their U.S. bank accounts.

Diaz used Enfoque for 44 shipments of $23.3 million in currency from Mexico to the United States between August 2011 and January 2012, ICE said.

In paperwork filed with the U.S. government, Diaz listed exchange houses in Mexico where he allegedly purchased the currency as the owners or couriers of the money rather than himself or his company, the affidavit added.

Agents said Diaz told an informant he sold the cash to a check casher in South Miami-Dade who needed "large sums of currency" to cash paychecks of undocumented immigrants, who cannot use banks.

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