LAREDO, Texas – A 51-year-old man who resided in Iran and Laredo was sentenced to prison following his conviction for conspiracy to launder money in a scheme known as “Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE),” the US Attorney announced. Jennifer B. Lowery.
Mohsen Mohammadi-Mohammadi pleaded guilty on December 1, 2021.
Today, US District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ordered him to serve a total of 40 months in prison. Not being a US citizen, Mohammadi is expected to face deportation proceedings following his conviction. In imposing the sentence, the court commented on the seriousness of the offense and Mohammadi’s willful participation in the crime. Judge Marmolejo further ordered the forfeiture of $177,345, the money he laundered through his business.
From October 2011 to October 2013, Mohammadi and others conspired to launder the proceeds of drug trafficking. They obtained money from the sale of illegal drugs in the United States to Mexico using BMPE, a form of trade-based money laundering. The co-conspirators would launder drug proceeds through international trade. As a result, drug traffickers based in Mexico eventually received their profits in Mexican pesos.
The conspirators collected drug proceeds from cities across the United States and transported and/or transferred them to Laredo. There the money was laundered through commodity businesses such as perfume sellers. Mohammadi owned such a business known as Mav Trading Inc.
At the time of his plea, he admitted receiving the drug proceeds as payment for goods sold to Mexican companies.
Companies that receive more than $10,000 must file a Form 8300. Mohammadi filed it, but they had significant omissions and misrepresentations to conceal the source and origin of the money.
Following the issuance of an arrest warrant, Mohammadi fled the United States to Iran. He traveled to various places and finally landed in New York, New York, where authorities arrested him. He has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a United States Bureau of Prisons facility, to be determined in the near future.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS-Criminal Investigation conducted the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OECDTF) operation codenamed Operation Zahhak with assistance from Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Marshal Service. The OECDTF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information on the OECDTF program can be found on the Department of Justice OECDTF webpage. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jose Angel Moreno and Justice Department Attorney Keith Liddle, Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, prosecuted the case.