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McAllen, Texas News

Family Members from Mission Plead Guilty in Money Laundering and Alien Smuggling Case

Four Mission residents have pleaded guilty to charges related to money laundering and transporting aliens within the United States. U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani announced that Luis Enrique Moctezuma-Acosta, 36, Elizabeth Acosta, 52, Keysi Fuentes-Gavarrete, 27, and Scarlett Fuentes-Gavarrette, 35, admitted to laundering over $2 million in monetary instruments. Additionally, Scarlett Fuentes-Gavarrette and Moctezuma-Acosta pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. The four individuals, who are either related by blood or marriage, were involved in a sophisticated smuggling network that utilized various methods including commercial airplanes and tractor-trailers.

“In the heart of South Texas, where the borders converge, we confront the stark reality of money laundering and the smuggling of undocumented individuals,” said Hamdani. “From the distant lands of Honduras to the bustling streets of Boston, Massachusetts, this illicit network spans continents, but our resolve to dismantle it remains unwavering. By safeguarding against these criminal enterprises, we not only uphold the rule of law but also ensure the safety and dignity of all members of our community.”

The investigation, which began in November 2019, uncovered that the smuggling organization brought around 300 undocumented migrants from the Southwest border regions deeper into the northern parts of the United States. The network extended from Honduras to Boston, Massachusetts, with a focus on smuggling Brazilian nationals.

Authorities executed multiple search warrants on March 9, 2023, at the properties of Scarlett Fuentes-Gavarrette and Moctezuma-Acosta, seizing over $1.5 million in cash from their residence and a purported car dealership operated as a front business. Throughout the investigation, law enforcement confiscated approximately $2.69 million in assets, luxury vehicles, jewelry, and real property.

U.S. District Chief Judge Randy Crane will sentence the defendants on June 6, with each facing up to 20 years in federal prison. Scarlett Fuentes-Gavarrette and Moctezuma-Acosta could receive an additional 20 years. Both convictions carry fines of up to $250,000. The defendants will remain in custody pending sentencing.

The FBI led the investigation with assistance from Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Department of Insurance, and the McAllen Police Department.

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