A brother-sister team was indicted late last week for laundering more than $42 million in drug proceeds through the U.S. financial system using more than seven dozen bank accounts belonging to nearly two dozen California-based shell corporations, federal law enforcement authorities said.
According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, Jesus Vazquez Padilla, 50, of Tijuana, Mexico, and his sister, Monica Vazquez, 48, of Chula Vista, Calif., deposited cash proceeds of drug sales into 85 U.S.-based bank accounts and layered those deposits across multiple corporate accounts in at least 22 California-based shell corporations before finally transferring the funds to accounts in Mexican-based financial institutions.
“For example, the indictment alleges that defendants served as corporate officers for two San Diego-based corporations, OSVA Incorporated and Jeva International, Inc.,” according to a release from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s (FDIC) Office of Inspector General (which assisted in the investigation). “As corporate officers, they opened corporate bank accounts in U.S.-based financial institutions and, on various dates in 2017, deposited large cash amounts before finally transferring those funds to Mexico.”
In total, the agency said, the indictment contends that the siblings laundered $42.3 million, transferred approximately 95% of those funds to Mexico, and retained the remainder as payment for their services.
Specifically, the two are charged with conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, conspiracy to launder money, and criminal forfeiture. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment and $500,000 fine or twice the value of the funds involved in the transportation, transmission, or transfer, whichever is greater.