SAN DIEGO (CN) – A used car dealer in Calexico faces up to 20 years in federal prison after admitting he laundered drug money and failed to file cash transaction reports.
Ignacio Gonzalez, 45, former owner of Del Valle Auto Sales, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of laundering drug money, and agreed to forfeit $43,920 and pay a $20,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Used car lots along the border are a common way to launder drug money. Whether the cars actually change hands or not, and whether the sale prices are reasonable or not, the cash allegedly involved in the deals can be reported, and taxed, laundering the money, should tax agents ever ask where it came from.
Gonzalez, however, did not report cash transactions of $19,420 and $24,500, prosecutors said, and the paper work he did file on the three vehicles involved was phony.
Salvage vehicles are another way to launder drug money. Used car dealers buy junkers worth a few hundred dollars, if that, but report the sales as though they were valuable cars. The drug dealer then can report the money he gets from the sale, pay taxes on it, and his money becomes clean.
Gonzalez will be sentenced on Nov. 4.
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