Three individuals were charged as part of a lucrative $27 million money laundering ring that aided drug traffickers along the U.S.-Mexican border, the Justice Department announced today.
Sarah Combs, 48, of Dickinson, Texas; Willie Whitehurst, 44, of Houston, Texas; and Enrique Morales, 42, of Houston and Guadalajara, Mexico, were all charged in the scheme.
The indictments, filed in the Southern District of Texas, allege that Combs, Whitehurst and Morales transmitted money as part of a business often referred to as the “Black Market Peso Exchange.” From October 2009 to September 2011, the defendants allegedly took extra American dollars gained through the sale of drugs in U.S. cities and then placed it in banks under shell companies, the indictment contends.
From there, the money was moved to different accounts in the United States and Mexico, and in exchange, pesos were sent to bank accounts owned by their clients, the indictment states.
“According to the indictment, the defendants enabled dangerous narcotics traffickers to access their ill-gotten gains and evade law enforcement,” Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, said in a statement. “Professional money launderers are integral to criminal organizations and vigorously prosecuting them is a critical part of the department’s comprehensive approach to dismantling those criminal organizations for good.”
The case is being prosecuted by Ted Imperato, and assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Texas, and Keith Liddle, a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s Money Laundering and Bank Integrity Unit.