Five Guatemalans charged with money laundering of drug proceeds

A federal grand jury has indicted Walter Yovani Velasquez-Solis, 40 years old; Hugo Rene Aldana-Portilla, 36 years old; Rony Raul Rosas-Velasquez, 45 years old; Virgilio Arnoldo Galvez-Del Cid, 48 years old; and Jorge Alejandro Anderson, 31 years old, all citizens of Guatemala, for crimes committed in connection with an alleged conspiracy to smuggle bulk cash out of the United States and to launder money represented to be the proceeds of a drug conspiracy. The indictment was returned on June 20, 2007 and unsealed today after the arrests of the defendants.

United States Attorney Rod Rosenstein said, "Money laundering fuels the illegal drug trade. When drugs are smuggled into Maryland from foreign countries, the drug dealers need to get their profits back out of our country. We can fight illegal drugs by preventing drug kingpins from getting their hands on the financial proceeds."

"Seizing money and assets is a powerful tool in combating illegal drug trafficking," stated Carl J. Kotowski, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Baltimore District Office. "Any type of money seizure by law enforcement officials is a slap in the face for drug dealers," added Kotowski.

Special Agent in Charge, Francis L. Turner, IRS Criminal Investigation stated, "IRS-CI together with the law enforcement community are united in our resolve to financially disrupt criminal organizations that commit crimes against our society and the world economy."

"This investigation sends a clear message to all cash smugglers that the FBI stands ready to work with our international, federal, state, and local partners to shut down smuggling operations like this throughout the U.S. We will work diligently to bring individuals to justice, like those indicted here, who help criminals profit from their crimes and perpetuate the drug trade." said FBI Assistant Director in Charge Joseph Persichini, Jr., Washington Field Office.

According to the 13-count indictment Velasquez-Solis, Galvez-Del Cid and Anderson conspired to launder money, including $150,000 received in Hyattsville, Maryland on March 17 and another $150,000 received in Silver Spring, Maryland on April 28, 2007. In addition, Velasquez-Solis is charged with operating an unlicensed money remitting business in Hyattsville, Maryland, and failing to file currency transaction reports on eight occasions for transactions totaling $610,000 in connection with the money remitting business. Currency transaction reports are required to be filed by financial institutions on transactions of $10,000 or more. The money was part of an undercover operation and was represented to be the proceeds of a drug conspiracy.

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2002, all of the defendants conspired to smuggle large sums of cash, concealed in luggage and merchandise, out of the United States in order to evade currency reporting requirements. According to the indictment, on 13 occasions from July 2003 to April 2007, one or more of the defendants received sums of money ranging from $7,000 to $150,000, which total $795,923, and boarded or attempted to board flights to Guatemala.

The defendants were arrested late Friday night, June 29, 2007, upon their arrival in the United States at Dulles Airport in Virginia on a flight from Guatemala.

The maximum penalty for money laundering is 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the amount laundered; 20 years in prison for conspiracy to launder money; five years for operating an unlicensed money remitting business; five years in prison for conspiracy to smuggle bulk cash out of the United States; and 10 years for failing to file currency transaction reports. The defendants will have an initial appearance and arraignment today in the United States Courthouse in Greenbelt, Maryland.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the State of Maryland, Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, for the investigative work performed in this case. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrea L. Smith and Bryan Giblin who are prosecuting the case.

Source: United State Department of Justice

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