Money transfer business owners in Auckland and employees accused of money laundering for drug dealers

Money transfer business owners in Auckland and employees accused of money laundering for drug dealers

Oakland – In the latest federal law enforcement action targeting drug trafficking organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area, the owners and employees of two Oakland money transfer companies have been charged with laundering drug proceeds via wire transfers to Mexico.

Felipe de Jesus Ornillas Mora, Veronica Mora, Griscila Cancelada-Lisiga, and Jocelyn Perez Ramirez have all been charged with money laundering, a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Prosecutors say Ornelas-Mora owned Rincon Musical on International Boulevard in and Cancelada-Liceaga owned America Latina on Fruitvale Avenue, after she spent time working for Ornelas-Mora as a treasurer. Prosecutors said Mora and Perez Ramirez worked as cashiers at Rincon Musical.

An investigation led by the Internal Revenue Service and Drug Enforcement Administration concluded that the group was working together to divert drug proceeds to Mexico and other parts of the United States on behalf of drug traffickers, using an identity theft scheme to conceal the source of the funds. And using multiple recipients to avoid law enforcement scrutiny that can come with massive wire transfers, according to the criminal complaint.

The investigation began after two men in federal court charged with drug smuggling identified Rincon Musical as a primary business they used to send money to the person responsible for drug smuggling, who was living in Mexico.

One of the men, identified only as a Honduran national who was arrested on suspicion of drug use in December 2020, is estimated to have laundered $109,000 in the four months prior to his arrest. He reportedly told authorities that he would sometimes arrive with piles of cash too large to get through the cashier’s window.

After this information, the authorities sent two undercover informants to Rincon Musical with large amounts of cash to send to Mexico. A detective is described as someone who has a DUI, has no other criminal history but is seeking US citizenship. The other is described as a convicted drug dealer awaiting punishment, and lied to investigators about contacting another suspected drug dealer eight times over the phone while the operation was in progress, according to the complaint.

From January to June, the complaint alleges that Rincon Cashiers charged fees for making wire transfers without verifying secret informants’ identity cards, and then used the company’s database to access identification information for random California residents to make it look like the money was coming in. from those non-participating parties. For example, on April 20, 2022, Perez Ramirez and Mora allegedly used the identity cards of six people to fake a $20,000 transfer to Culiacan, Sinaloa.

When Ornelas-Mora was arrested on August 31, he allegedly told authorities “I knew there were things going wrong” and asserted that his work was being used to launder drug money. Perez Ramirez said Ornelas-Mora would keep half of the $30 fee they charged people to make transfers without showing the required ID, according to the complaint.

Court records showed that the four defendants were released from prison while the charges are still pending.

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