COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – State, federal and local agents raided a Commerce City car dealership where three people are accused of money laundering.
The dealership is the Chopeque Auto Sales on Quebec. Twenty vehicles with clear titles were seized while investigators worked.
“We’ve basically taken control of the business for today,” IRS Special Agent Bryan Thiel told CBS4. “We’ll basically lock the doors up and turn the business back over to the owners.”
The federal indictment alleges Raul Mendoza, 48; Julia Castillo-Caraveo, 28; and Isidro Menodoza-Ortiz, 25; were using the dealership to launder drug money by hiding it through false sales documents.
“Working with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, we were able to uncover a sophisticated scheme where the defendants hid drug dealing proceeds by laundering the money through the sale of automobiles,” U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a statement.
According to the indictment, from February 2008 through May 2012, the suspects conspired to structure currency by depositing transactions with the intent to evade the reporting requirements as required by law. Daily cash receipts from the dealership were received at the business and structured into separate accounts at various banks to avoid the $10,000 reporting requirements.
The suspects appeared before judge on Tuesday to be advised of their rights. They will be arraigned on Friday.