Miami-Dade County Resident Sentenced to 65 Months in Prison for Structuring and Money Laundering
Must Forfeit Over $18 Million in Seized Cash and Money Orders
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Antonio J. Gomez, Inspector in Charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), Miami Division; Adolphus P. Wright, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Miami Field Division; Juan J. Perez, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD); and Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), announced that resident Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez was sentenced today to 65 months in prison and has agreed to forfeit over $18 million, following his money laundering conviction.
On February 7, 2018, Hernandez-Gonzalez, 45, of Miami Lakes, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title l8, United States Code, Section 1956(h), and one count of causing and attempting to cause a financial institution to fail to file a currency transaction reports as part of a pattern of criminal activity involving more than $100,000 in a twelve-month period, in violation Title 31, United States Code, Section 5324(a)(1) and(d)(2. Hernandez-Gonzalez was sentenced to 65 months, forfeiture of $18,000,000.00 in seized U.S. currency and $42,051.00 in seized blank money orders, by U.S. District Court Judge Robert N. Scola.
“Those who seek to deceptively circumvent established financial reporting requirements will be called to pay for their misdeeds, by forfeiting the monies acquired through their illicit conduct,” stated U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal, state and local partners will continue to target for prosecution those who launder money, including narcotics trafficking proceeds, through our banking systems and the U.S. Postal Service.”
"The primary mission of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is the protection of our employees, our customers, and, thus, our communities to ensure that the Postal Service is not used to avoid federal reporting requirements or launder drug trafficking proceeds,” said Miami Division Inspector in Charge Antonio J. Gomez. "This case is an excellent example of the partnerships we have established across federal and state jurisdictions to help us fulfill that mission."
“The sentencing of Luis Hernandez-Gonzalez puts a final end to his money laundering operation,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Adophus P. Wright. “This case is a result of the strong partnership and working relationship with our law enforcement partners.”
“Structuring financial transactions to avoid currency reporting requirements is a criminal violation of federal law under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). Today's sentencing is a reminder that there are serious consequences for this type of criminal behavior,” stated Michael J. DePalma, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI). “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to unravel this and other complex financial transactions and money laundering schemes where individuals attempt to conceal the true source of their income and deliberately avoid BSA requirements.”
From on or about January 2, 2010, to on or about June 28, 2016, Hernandez-Gonzalez knowingly made deposits or purchased money orders with over $17,700,000 in United States currency in a manner designed to avoid the Department of Treasury Currency Transaction Report (CTR) filing requirement. These deposits and money order purchases were made at banks or United States Postal Service branches and were part of a pattern of criminal activity involving more than $100,000 in a twelve-month period.
From April through June 2016, Hernandez-Gonzalez assisted marijuana traffickers to cultivate their products. During a search warrant in Tennessee, law enforcement discovered approximately 242 marijuana plants. Hernandez-Gonzalez deposited funds that he received from the Tennessee marijuana trafficking activity into business bank accounts he controlled or he purchased USPS money orders with the narcotics proceeds. The deposits and money order purchases were conducted in a manner that was designed to conceal and disguise, in whole or in part, the nature, the location, the source, the ownership and the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity, or to knowingly evade the CTR filing requirement on the receipt of the marijuana trafficking funds.
On June 28, 2016, pursuant to an investigation into the defendant’s criminal conduct, law enforcement seized over $21 million from Hernandez-Gonzalez’s residence - the majority of which were contained in orange buckets inside a hidden compartment in the attic and walls. In addition, law enforcement seized over $665,000 in currency and $42,000 in money orders from the defendant's Miami business.
In total, $17,700,000 in currency and more than $42,000 in postal money orders were funds/property involved in, or traceable to the evasion of the CTR reporting requirement. Of that amount, $300,000 was involved in, or traceable to transactions Hernandez-Gonzalez received from the Tennessee marijuana traffickers.
This prosecution 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 OCDETF mission is to identify, investigate, and prosecute members of drug trafficking enterprises, bringing together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state and local law enforcement.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of USPIS, DEA, MDPD and IRS-CI. Mr. Greenberg thanked the DEA – Nashville District Office for their assistance with this matter. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Abraham. Assistant United States Attorney Evelyn B. Sheehan is handling the forfeiture proceedings.