Local Business Owner Charged with Structuring Nearly $4 Million Cash and Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Orlando B. Gutierrez and Daniel C. Silva at (619) 546-9713
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 7, 2016
SAN DIEGO – A grand jury for the Southern District of California returned a six-count superseding indictment this morning against San Diego businessman Lakhwinder Singh “aka” Victor and his business Lovely Singh, Inc. for their role in a criminal conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, and for structuring approximately $3,938,976 into bank accounts all throughout San Diego County.
As set forth in the superseding indictment, Singh, along with his co-defendant, Alejandro Nava, are charged with conspiring to distribute controlled substances, oxycodone, which is a Schedule II Controlled Substance. Singh owned and operated Postal Annex stores in La Mesa and Lemon Grove. In addition to distributing the controlled substances, the Postal Annex stores operated as agents for an international money transmitting business. With the cash generated from the Postal Annex stores, Singh is alleged to have conducted hundreds of cash deposits for less than $10,000 in an effort to evade the law requiring the filing of a Currency Transaction Report (a “CTR”).
Federal laws and regulations require a domestic financial institution that engages in a currency transaction involving more than $10,000 in United States currency to file a CTR with the United States Department of the Treasury. It is an offense to cause or attempt to cause a domestic financial institution to fail to file a CTR, or for a person to “structure” cash transactions with the same purpose.
“Structuring” includes conducting one or more financial transactions in currency, in any amount, at one or more financial institutions, on one or more days, in any manner, for the purpose of evading CTRs. Federal laws and regulations define “in any manner” to include the breaking down of a single sum of currency exceeding $10,000.00 into smaller sums, as well as conducting a series of transactions, including transactions “at or below $10,000.”
“In this investigation, federal agents uncovered a very serious public health threat that should serve as a warning to those who put consumers at risk for their own financial gain,” said Dave Shaw, Special Agent in Charge for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Diego. “HSI is committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners, here and abroad, to prevent imposter drugs from being smuggled into the U.S. and distributed via unregulated pharmaceutical supply chains on the Internet.”
“People who facilitate the illegal shipment of pills and make a profit are called drug dealers,” said DEA San Diego Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman. “Thirty milligram oxycodone pills are the most abused prescription painkiller in the United States. DEA will continue to conduct investigations so that these dangerous pills do not make it to the streets for people to abuse.”
“Federal laws that regulate the reporting of financial transactions are designed to detect and stop illegal activities. As an agent for a money service business, Singh has the responsibility to comply with federal regulations and have anti-money laundering policies in place,” stated Anthony J. Orlando, Acting Special Agent in Charge for IRS Criminal Investigation. “This investigation continues to demonstrate our efforts to ensure that the financial services industry will operate in a fair and honest manner to promote public trust.”
In total, the Superseding Indictment alleges that Singh conducted 651 cash deposits between December 2011 and January 2014, for approximately $3,938,976.33; all with the intent to evade the filing of a CTR. The Superseding Indictment also contains forfeiture allegations in the same amount.
Lakhwinder Singh “aka” Victor
Lovely Singh, Inc.
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Substance – Title 21 U.S.C., Sections 841(a)(1) and 846
Maximum penalty: 20 years’ imprisonment, $250,000 fine, and forfeiture
Structuring and Attempt to Evade the Filing of a CTR – Title 31, U.S.C., Sections 5324(a)(1) and (a)(3)
Maximum penalty: 10 years’ imprisonment and $500,000 fine (individual), $1,000,000 fine (corporation), and forfeiture
Homeland Security Investigations
Drug Enforcement Administration
Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation