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North Texas Business Owners Guilty in Money Laundering Scheme



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A jury has found four North Texas men guilty of federal money laundering violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Miguel Rivas Estrada, 29, of Michoacán, Mexico; Felipa Torres, 49, of Dallas; Justa Centeno, 52, of Dallas; and Jose Angel Olvera, 40, of Dallas, were found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The verdict was reached on Sep. 19, 2016 following a week-long trial before U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant.

According to information presented in court, Felipa Torres owned and operated Cumbia Recordz, Justa Centeno owned and operated Variedades Esperanza and Jose Olvera owned and operated Super Mercado 5 Estrellas.  All three of these businesses operated as money services business (MSBs) located in the Northwest Highway area and were authorized agents of several International Money Remitter Companies, such as Barri Financial Group, Continental Exchange Solutions, GroupEx Financial Corporation, InterCambio Express Corporation, Intermex Wire Transfers, LLC, Sigue Corporation, Unidos Financial Corporation, and Viamericas Corporation.  The three MSBs utilized these remitter services to facilitate the transmission of proceeds obtained from the distribution of methamphetamines via wire transfers to Michoacán, Mexico.

Between June of 2013 and October of 2015, these MSBs laundered over $16 million in illicit proceeds from the North Texas area to Michoacán, Mexico. These MSBs charged a wire transaction fee to help launder the illicit proceeds.  It was part of the laundering scheme that the MSBs structured the wires in amounts less than $1,000 coupled with the usage of fictitious sender information in order to avoid bank secrecy act reporting requirements and to conceal the true origin and ownership of the illicit proceeds.

The head of the multi kilo methamphetamine transnational distribution ring was Miguel Angel Rivas Estrada who was also found guilty of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.

Under federal statutes, the defendants each face up to 20 years in federal prison at sentencing.  The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress and is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.  A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case is the result of an ongoing Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) joint investigation.  The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, Lancaster Police Department, Dallas Police Department, Dallas County Sherriff’s Office, Fate Department of Public Safety, Irving Police Department, Rockwall County Sherriff’s Office, Balch Springs Police Department, Rowlett Police Department, Enforcement and Removal Operations, and the Texas Attorney General’s Office.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather Rattan and Leslie Brooks.