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Press Release

Human smuggling family admits to over $2M money laundering conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

McALLEN, Texas – Four Mission residents have entered guilty pleas for their roles in a conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and a related conspiracy to transport aliens within the United States, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Luis Enrique Moctezuma-Acosta, 36, Elizabeth Acosta, 52, and Keysi Fuentes-Gavarrete, 27, admitted to laundering over $2 million in monetary instruments. Scarlett Fuentes-Gavarrette, 35, entered her plea March 26 to the same charge. She and her husband - Moctezuma-Acosta - also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. All four are either related through blood or marriage.

“In the heart of South Texas, where the borders converge, we confront the stark reality of money laundering and the smuggling of undocumented individuals,” said Hamdani. “From the distant lands of Honduras to the bustling streets of Boston, Massachusetts, this illicit network spans continents, but our resolve to dismantle it remains unwavering. By safeguarding against these criminal enterprises, we not only uphold the rule of law but also ensure the safety and dignity of all members of our community.”

The conspiracy involved a sophisticated network of alien smugglers across the United States utilizing commercial airplanes, tractor-trailers and various other smuggling methods.

An investigation began in November 2019 and revealed the smuggling organization brought approximately 300 undocumented migrants from the Southwest border regions further into the northern parts of the United States. The network spanned from Honduras to as far north as Boston, Massachusetts, with a heavy emphasis on smuggling Brazilian nationals.

On March 9, 2023, Authorities executed multiple search warrants at the properties of Scarlett Fuentes-Gavarrette and Moctezuma-Acosta, at which time they seized over $1.5 million in cash. The locations included their residence and a purported car dealership they operated as a front business. Throughout the investigation, law enforcement also seized approximately $2.69 million in assets and several luxury vehicles, such as a 2023 Escalade, 2021 Ford Shelby Truck, jewelry and several pieces of real property.

U.S. District Chief Judge Randy Crane will impose sentencing June 6. At that time, they all face up to up to 20 years in federal prison. Scarlett Fuentes-Gavarrette and Moctezuma-Acosta also face an additional 20 years. Both convictions also carry fines up to $250,000.

All will remain in custody pending sentencing.

The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Department of Insurance and McAllen Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric D. Flores prosecuted the case. Assisting with forfeiture proceedings is Assistant U.S. Attorney Tyler Foster.

Updated March 28, 2024

Financial Fraud