One unlucky band of bad guys thought they had figured out how to launder their money, but they were wrong. In September of last year, the suspects were apprehended and indicted for their roles in a massive people trafficking operation. Now federal authorities have uncovered and accused them with money laundering for their illicit financial dealings.
On September 13, 2022, a federal joint task force in Texas arrested eight people smugglers and indicted them for illegally trafficking migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia across the United States. Erminia Serrano Piedra, better known by her alias “Boss Lady,” was the gang’s boss. Her specialty was picking up illegal immigrants just north of the border and transferring them deeper into the United States.
Immigrants were frequently forced to endure brutally inconvenient modes of transportation, such as stowing away in bags, riding in the back of pickup trucks, being locked in wooden crates and transported on flatbeds, or even being crammed inside water tankers. The group is suspected of operating a network of safe houses in other cities, including Laredo and Austin, where migrants may stay while continuing their treks.
A second set of indictments has been filed against Piedra and three of her co-conspirators. After collecting their fee from migrants, who were charged up to $2,500 per person for transportation, the gang hid the money as compensation for bogus construction jobs, according to investigators. According to the allegations, the gang bosses recruited individuals who would accept the money and “pay” them for services that were never rendered. Some of their partners were legitimate firms that took in cash and wired or mailed checks to the traffickers.
The Justice Department (DOJ) indicted Piedra and three others for money laundering: Oscar Angel Monroy Alcibar, Pedro Hairo Abrigo, and Juan Diego Martinez-Rodriguez. The DOJ has also taken possession of three homes worth a total of $3 million and nearly $3 million in cash.