October 21, 2014
Contact: Wendell Campbell
Phone Number: (713) 693-3000
Four Laredoans Arrested In Money Laundering Conspiracy
LAREDO, Texas - Four residents of Laredo have been arrested and charged in a previously sealed indictment for allegedly conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business among other offenses, announced Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Arabit, Houston Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
The four-count indictment, returned Sept. 24, 2014, was unsealed today upon the arrests of Juan Carlos Cerda, 35, Alejandro Cerda, 40, Adrian Reyna, 33, and Ofelia A. Jenkins, 63. They are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.
The indictment accuses all of conspiring together from about December 2010 through about March 2013 to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business. Juan Cerda and Alejandro Cerda are also charged with conspiring to launder proceeds from illegal activity from November 2010 to September 2014.
The indictment alleges they all engaged in the business of transmitting money, using various bank accounts to transfer millions of U.S. dollars to personal accounts, money exchange houses, businesses and investment firms in the state of Texas and the Republic of Mexico.
According to the charges, Juan Cerda and Alejandor Cerda owned and operated a vehicle nationalization company titled Grupo MCA Importaciones LLC. The four defendants allegedly acquired bulk quantities of currency and other monetary instruments totaling $30 million from Grupo MCA and other vehicle nationalization businesses operating in the Laredo area. The monies were eventually deposited into Texas bank accounts managed by Reyna and Jenkins, according to the indictment.
The indictment also includes a notice of intent to forfeit two certificates of deposit valued at more than $2 million, a brokerage account of more than $2.5 million, a 500-acre ranch, a 2,500-acre ranch and other real estate, all as property involved in or traceable to property involved in the indicted offenses.
If convicted of the conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, they each face a maximum of five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine. Reyna and Jenkins are each also charged with one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and face another five years and $250,000 possible fine, upon conviction. Juana Cerda and Alejandro Cerda further face up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $500,000 fine if convicted of conspiring to commit money laundering.
The indictment is the result of a multi-agency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force operation dubbed Operation Conundrum involving the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Graciela R. Lindberg is prosecuting the case. An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.