U.S. Charges 4 With Drug Money Laundering

     SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) — Four men accused of laundering $60 million in drug money, including the leader, were arrested this week, federal agents said Thursday.
     The alleged ringleader, Gustavo Barba, 59, of Guadalajara, was arrested Tuesday evening as he entered the United States at Otay Mesa, federal prosecutors said. Three more men were arrested Thursday and the 32-count indictment was unsealed.
     Barba ran Barba International, a money exchange house with outlets in Guadalajara and in Los Angeles’ Jewelry District. He’s accused of running it as a black market peso exchange, a way for drug dealers to wash and move their enormous sums of cash.
     The drug money earned in the United States goes to the money launderer, who uses it to pay U.S. businesses for good ordered by Mexican businesses, which pay the launderer in pesos for goods to be shipped to Mexico. The drug money then has an apparently legitimate source, and the launderer can deliver it to the cartels in Mexico.
     Also arrested were Isaias Navarro, 37, of Fullerton, who ran Barba International’s office in Los Angeles;
     Vidal Gutierrez Vargas, 58, of Whittier; and
     Gervork Hagopian, 61, of the Windsor Square District in Los Angeles, owner of a business in the jewelry district.
     Fugitives from the indictment are Roberto Castaneda, 77, of Guadalajara, Barba’s father in law;
     Jose Luis Guizar, 43, of East Palo Alto, an alleged courier; and
     Leo Alfonso Alvarez, 35, of Edinburg, Texas, also called a courier in the indictment.

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