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7 Indicted in Scheme to Launder Drug Profits

April 07, 1985|BILL FARR | Times Staff Writer

Seven people were indicted by a Los Angeles grand jury Friday on charges that they took part in an international money-laundering scheme using drug profits to buy cashiers checks in Southern California and then depositing them at banks in New York, Connecticut, Florida and Spain.

"This is a significant case because it is the first time our surveillance of financial transactions has led us to the drug dealers involved. Usually, it is the other way around," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Brian Sun.

He said the evidence resulting in the 20-count indictment was gathered by a financial investigations task force that combines the efforts of federal, state and local agents in tracking the flow of money from drug dealers.

Sun said 30 pounds of high-grade cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $5 million was seized when members of the task force executed a search warrant at a residence in the Montecito Heights area of Los Angeles.

'Runners' Bought Cashiers Checks

He said the money-laundering ring used "runners" to buy cashiers checks at Southern California banks in amounts always below $10,000, the amount that would require the financial institution to report the transactions to federal agencies.

The scheme involved the conversion of large amounts of U.S. currency into cashiers checks during the period between February, 1984, and March, 1985, according to the indictment.

Charged in the indictment were Los Angeles residents William Valek, 24; Gustavo A. Rodriguez, 25; Ramon Moran, 33, and Victor H. Ascarunz, age unknown, along with Ignacio and Elsa Gomez, both 47, of Bell, and Alfredo Martinez Perez, 26, of Mexico.

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