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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 25, 2022

CEO of South Florida Armored Transport Company Pleads Guilty to Committing Customs Fraud as Part of a Multimillion Dollar Dirty Gold Money Laundering Conspiracy

Miami, Florida – Jesus Gabriel Rodriguez, Jr., 45, former CEO of Transvalue, a South Florida company that transported gold, cash, and other valuables by armored truck, pled guilty yesterday to submitting false customs documents that hid the true origin of gold being imported into Miami as part of a $140 million transnational illicit gold smuggling operation.

As part of his guilty plea, Rodriguez admitted that he facilitated the importation of thousands of kilograms of gold being flown into the United States from Curacao, knowing that the customs paperwork falsely represented the gold’s origins.  Rodriguez’s co-conspirators were buyers who earned volume-based commissions by procuring gold for NTR Metals (now, Elemetals LLC).  NTR Metals was a U.S. precious metals refinery with policies in place to combat money laundering, including not buying gold from Curacao, a country with no gold mines that is commonly used as waypoint for gold illegally mined in, and smuggled out of, other countries.  Rodriguez helped co-conspirators dodge NTR Metals’ anti-money laundering policy and get the gold past U.S. Customs by working to conceal the gold’s origins and connections to Curacao.   

Rodriguez agreed to forfeit $267,817 dollars as part of his guilty plea, an amount that represents the estimated increase in value to the business as a result of Rodriguez’s conduct and almost all of his personal earnings from the scheme.

Rodriguez is scheduled for sentencing on April 4, at 11:00 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Darrin P. Gayles, who sits in Miami.  He faces up to 24 months in federal prison.

Juan Antonio Gonzalez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami; Matthew D. Line, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Office; and Anthony Salisbury, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Filed Office, announced the guilty plea of Rodriguez.

“Complex money laundering schemes involve key players at every stage of the process,” said U.S. Attorney Gonzalez. “Corporate executives who facilitate money laundering while purportedly importing lawful goods at the transport and U.S. Customs stages do not get to hide behind their status as otherwise legitimate business owners. Like everyone else participating in these illegal schemes, they will be prosecuted.”

“Criminals are using increasingly more sophisticated means to hide the proceeds of their illegal activity.  Called money laundering, this is the process used by crooks to turn “dirty” money into “clean” money in an attempt to hide or accumulate wealth, avoid prosecution, evade taxes, increase profits, or fund further criminal activity,” said FBI Miami Special Agent in Charge Piro.  “It is a crime.  Our agents and forensic accountants will target and doggedly pursue those who launder money or assist those who do – including corporate executives like Mr. Rodriguez.”

“We will not stand for those who conceal themselves amongst legitimate businesses while defrauding others for monetary gain. Those involved in circumventing the laws in any capacity to launder illicit proceeds will be exposed and prosecuted,” said IRS-CI Miami Special Agent in Charge Line.

“Homeland Security Investigations will utilize its expertise to pursue anyone who facilitates the laundering of illicit proceeds”, said HSI Miami Special Agent in Charge Salisbury. “HSI is committed to working with our federal partners to stop individuals who attempt to take advantage of our financial and international trade institutions in support of their money laundering activities.

This prosecution and the related cases are part of Operation Arch Stanton, which is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence driven, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime.  The OCDETF program facilitates complex, joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, by managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.

FBI Miami, IRS-CI Miami, and HSI Miami investigated the case, with assistance from DEA-Miami and law enforcement partners in Curacao. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Walter M. Norkin and Andrea Goldbarg.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Klco is handling the asset forfeiture aspects of this matter.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 21-cr-20529-DPG.

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
Marlene Rodriguez Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney Public Affairs Officer USAFLS.News@usdoj.gov
Updated January 25, 2022