Iranian money launderer and former fugitive sent to U.S. prison
LAREDO, Texas – A 51-year-old man who resided in Iran and Laredo has been ordered to prison following his conviction of conspiracy to commit money laundering in a scheme known as the “Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE),” announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Mohsen Mohammadi-Mohammadi pleaded guilty Dec. 1, 2021.
Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ordered him to serve a total of 40 months in prison. Not a U.S. citizen, Mohammadi is expected to face removal proceedings following the sentence. In imposing the sentence, the court commented on the seriousness of the offense and Mohammadi’s willing participation in the crime. Judge Marmolejo further ordered the forfeiture of $177,345, the monies his laundered through his business.
From October 2011 to October 2013, Mohammadi and others conspired to launder drug trafficking proceeds. They obtained monies from the sale of illegal drugs in the United States into Mexico using the BMPE, a form of trade-based money laundering. Co-conspirators would launder drug proceeds through international trade. As a result, Mexico-based drug dealers ultimately received their profits in Mexican pesos.
Conspirators would pick up drug proceeds from cities in the United States and transported and/or transferred them to Laredo. There, the monies were laundered through commodities businesses such as perfume sellers. Mohammadi owned such a business known as Mav Trading Inc.
At the time of his plea, he admitted he received drug proceeds as payment for merchandise sold to Mexican businesses.
Businesses that receive more than $10,000 must file a Form 8300. Mohammadi filed such, but they had material omissions and false statements in order to conceal the source and origin of the money.
Following the issuance of an arrest warrant, Mohammadi fled the United States to Iran. He traveled to a variety of places and eventually landed in New York City, New York, where authorities took him into custody. He has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS-Criminal Investigation conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation dubbed Operation Zahhak with the assistance of Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Marshal Service. OCDETF identifies, disrupts and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found on the Department of Justice’s OCDETF webpage. Assistant U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno and Trial Attorney Keith Liddle of the Department of Justice, Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section prosecuted the case.