The 15-count indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to commit money laundering beginning in 1996 through November of 2010. The indictment states that the defendants' scheme revolved around the sale and financing of used and new vehicles to individuals who derived, or represented that they derived, significant income from the distribution of illegal drugs.
The indictment further alleges that the defendants knowingly accepted cash proceeds from drug dealers, allowed vehicle purchases in the names of nominees, and falsified records of payments received. The indictment further alleges that the defendants provided false information to law enforcement agencies, including the Shreveport Police Department and the Harrison County Sheriff's Office, to facilitate the release of vehicles seized from drug dealers.
In 2009 and 2010, the FBI conducted multiple "sting" operations directing cooperating individuals to purchase vehicles in the names of nominees and using large cash payments towards the purchase of those vehicles.
The indictment also charges several violations of The Bank Secrecy Act ("BSA") which requires that businesses, including motor vehicle dealerships, take a number of precautions against financial crimes. One such precaution is filing and reporting certain data indicative of money laundering, including cash transactions over $10,000.00 on a Form 8300. The indictment charges five counts of failure to file a Form 8300 and three counts of filing a false Form 8300.
A Notice of Forfeiture is also included within the indictment for property owned by the businesses as well as personal property.
The indictment is the culmination of an investigation dubbed "Operation NOMAS" conducted by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). OCDETF is a joint multi-agency group consisting of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies with a cooperative approach to combat drug trafficking. Investigations of businesses that assist drug dealers in spending and hiding their criminal proceeds is an important part of the OCDETF mission.
An indictment is merely an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
"Operation NOMAS" was a jointly conducted investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Northwest Louisiana Violent Crimes Task Force, Internal Revenue Service-
Criminal Investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshal's Service, Shreveport Police Department, Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office, Bossier City Police Department, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana National Guard Counter-Drug Task Force and the DeSoto Parish Sheriff's Office. The Harrison County Sheriff's Office in Marshall, Texas also assisted. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison D. Bushnell.