Former Bank Branch Manager Named : Five Indicted in Money-Changing Conspiracy
A federal grand jury on Friday returned two indictments against the former San Ysidro branch manager of the Bank of Coronado and four others, charging them with 44 counts of conspiring to defraud the bank, filing false cash transaction reports and failing to file government-required currency reports.
Guadalupe M. (Cha Cha) Alcantar was named in 42 of the counts. The charges supersede an earlier 13-count indictment against her.
Each charge carries a prison term of up to five years and fines ranging from $1,000 to $250,000.
Also charged in the indictment were Alcantar’s former husband, Tomas Alcantar of Nogales, Ariz.; Alfredo DeLaRosa of Tijuana, an employee of P&L; Currency Exchange in San Ysidro; Victor Camacho-Osuna, an employee of Banco BCH in Tijuana, and Camacho-Osuna’s wife, Antonieta.
The indictments are part of an ongoing investigation by the federal Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Stephen W. Peterson, who headed the investigation. The U.S. Customs Service and the Internal Revenue Service also are involved in the case.
The investigation’s scope remains secret. However, sources familiar with the case say that it involves proceeds from sales of narcotics. A one-inch-thick affidavit detailing the case remains sealed.
No charges are likely to be filed against the Bank of Coronado, according to the sources.
Bank of Coronado executives and other area bankers are following the case closely because of the possible impact on their Mexican banking customers. Many San Diego banks have made attracting non-resident depositors a top priority, and officials fear that a widespread scandal involving laundered drug money from Mexico could scare off many of these clients.
That could be costly. At the Bank of Coronado’s San Ysidro branch, for example, an overwhelming majority of the more than $20 million on deposit--as much as 85%, according to one industry source--is from Mexican customers.
The indictments issued Friday charge that between January and March, Guadalupe Alcantar, her ex-husband and DeLaRosa took 15 Bank of Coronado cashier’s checks worth $886,142.02 and converted them into pesos in San Ysidro. The money was allegedly then transferred by wire from Tijuana to Nogales, Mexico, converted back to dollars in Nogales, Ariz., and then transferred back to the bank to cover the original cashier’s checks.
The indictment does not specify how much profit was generated from the alleged scheme of “floating” the peso, but sources familiar with the case said it was less than $10,000.
Guadalupe Alcantar is also charged with failing to report to Customs officials and federal regulators the deposit of $146,750 in cash to the bank between March 12 and March 14. The indictment does not specify why the cash was deposited in the bank, what happened to the money or what Alcantar’s motives were for not reporting the transactions.
The government also alleges that Alcantar counseled and aided IRS and Customs undercover agents in “laundering” $860,000 in 1984 and 1985. Alcantar, according to the indictment, failed to file currency transaction reports on some of the transactions, and filed false reports on others. Federal law requires banks to file currency transaction reports with the U.S. Department of the Treasury for withdrawals and deposits in excess of $10,000.
Guadalupe Alcantar remains free on a $50,000 bond. The other defendants have not yet been arrested but are expected to surrender soon, Peterson said.