WASHINGTON (CN) – The USA seized $6.4 million in old, mutilated currency that four people claim they dug up in Mexico. Prosecutors claim the bills – $1.2 million in a plastic bag, and $5.2 million in a suitcase – are part of a money laundering conspiracy.
Prosecutors claim a money laundering ring has been trying to exchange $10 million to $20 million in mutilated currency for good bills since 2005. “Members of the group have said that the money was buried in Mexico for 20 or more years and have tried redeem or exchange batches of the mutilated currency at least six times, both through BEP [the Bureau of Engraving and Printing] in Washington, D.C., and at various banks in El Paso, Texas.”
Prosecutors say the group of money launderers “included Mr. Franz C. Felhaber, Mr. Jose Carillo-Valles, Mrs. Esther Carillo-Valles Saenz-Pardo, and Ms. Xochitl Carillo-Valles … These persons are all related by blood or marriage.” Felhaber owns a customs import brokerage in El Paso. Jose Carillo-Valles is Felhaber’s uncle.
The federal complaint does not describe whether prosecutors believe the money actually was dug up in Mexico, nor where it came from.