A San Marino man and the manager of his South El Monte based import-export company they allegedly used to illegally move millions of dollars from the United States to Mexico are scheduled to enter pleas today to federal money laundering charges.
According to an indictment returned by a Los Angeles federal grand jury, the three defendants received large sums of cash and worked with "peso brokers" in Mexico to illegally convert the dollars to pesos.
Named in the 93-count indictment are:
- Peace & Rich Import Inc., a wholesale distributor of silk flowers and other goods, located on Weaver Avenue in South El Monte;
- Chaur Hwan "Kenny" Lin, 66, of San Marino, the president and co- owner of Peace & Rich; and
- Antonio Pareja, 53, of San Gabriel, manager of Peace & Rich.
Lin and Pareja ran Peace & Rich as "an informal money transfer system" that "was involved in facilitating the transfer of money domestically outside of the conventional financial institutions system," the indictment alleges.
An investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles determined that Lin and Pareja allegedly used Peace & Rich to receive large amounts of cash derived from illegal activity. The cash -- tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the indictment -- was typically delivered by couriers working in conjunction with a peso broker in Mexico.
In a so-called "black market peso exchange" scheme, a peso broker works with an individual engaged in illegal activity, such as a drug trafficker, who has United States currency in the United States that he or she needs to bring to Mexico and convert to pesos, according to the indictment.
The peso broker finds business owners in Mexico who buy goods from vendors in the United States, such as Peace & Rich, and need dollars to pay for those goods. The peso broker arranges for the illegally obtained dollars in the United States to be delivered to the U.S.-based vendors, where they are used to pay for the goods purchased by the Mexico-based customers, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Once the goods are shipped to Mexico and sold by the Mexico-based business owner for pesos, the pesos are turned over to the peso broker, who then pays the drug trafficker in Mexico.
Additionally, Lin "structured" cash deposits -- or made a series of deposits that were less than $10,000 -- to avoid the filing of required currency transaction reports by the financial institutions where the deposits were made, federal prosecutors allege.
The indictment charges all three defendants with conspiracy, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and 63 counts of failure to file currency transaction reports. Peace & Rich and Lin are additionally facing 28 counts of structuring financial transactions.
- City News Service