Club owner indicted on charges of laundering money for Mexico drug trade

Pico Rivera nightclub owner indicted for laundering money for Mexican drug trafficker, federal officials say

The owner of a Pico Rivera nightclub has been indicted on charges that he laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars for a Mexican drug-trafficking operation, federal officials said.

Edgar De Dios Fragoso, 38, of Hacienda Heights -- owner of El Rodeo nightclub -- was named in an eight-count indictment charging him with conspiracy to launder money and money laundering for an unnamed Mexican drug trafficker.

Fragoso, who also operates a second El Rodeo bar in Moreno Valley, was arrested Feb. 23 on suspicion of money laundering after agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration raided his nightclub and home. He was later freed on a $100,000 bond.

Calls to his attorney were not immediately returned.

The Pico Rivera nightclub, which had been tarnished by violence for years, served as a drop-off point for DEA undercover operatives who would give up as much as $150,000 in cash at a time, according to a sworn affidavit filed Feb. 20.

Federal officials said Fragoso worked with the drug trafficker, who imported methamphetamine into the U.S., and funneled the drug proceeds through the two El Rodeo locations.

The drug trafficker directed his associates in the U.S. to sell the methamphetamine for cash and deliver the cash to the Pico Rivera nightclub, the indictment said.

The transactions would appear as payments for bogus business and financial services, authorities said.

According to the affidavit, Fragoso openly discussed various methods he could use to launder the funds. His conversations were recorded by undercover operatives.

If convicted, Fragoso faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the eight charges. His arraignment is set for March 13.

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