EL PASO, Texas — A federal grand jury returned a 17-count indictment Wednesday charging an El Paso attorney with a multi-million dollar wire fraud and money laundering scheme.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents assigned to the El Paso Financial Operations and Currency Unified Strike Force, or FOCUS.
The indictment charges Marco Antonio Delgado, 46, aka Marco Delgado Licon, with two wire fraud counts and 15 money laundering counts.
According to the indictment, in January 2010, Delgado, acting as a legal representative of FGG Enterprises Inc. (FGG), signed a $121 million contract between FGG and the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE), a Mexican-state-owned utility company. The contract was for acquiring and installing equipment at the Agua Prieta II power plant in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.
Pursuant to the agreement, payments from CFE to FGG were to be deposited into a FGG bank account in El Paso.
The indictment alleges that Delgado, for his own profit and without the consent of FGG, submitted a fraudulent written request to the Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior in Mexico. This fraudulent request caused two wire transfers – one for $20 million March 8, 2010, and another for $12 million July 6, 2010 – to be deposited into a bank account he controlled in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The indictment further alleges that Delgado subsequently wire transferred about $1.15 million from the Turks and Caicos Island bank account to bank accounts in El Paso; Taos, N.M.; and Pittsburg, Penn., to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source ownership, or the control of the proceeds from his scheme.
The indictment contains a notice of criminal forfeiture in which the government seeks the forfeiture of proceeds traceable to the indicted offenses, namely, $32 million in U.S. currency, the defendant's residence and furnishings in El Paso, two vehicles, and a condominium in Taos, N.M.
"HSI investigates crimes and traces illegal activity around the globe," said Dennis A. Ulrich, special agent in charge for HSI El Paso. "HSI is uniquely equipped to trace criminals no matter where they commit their crimes – including individuals who steal money from foreign governments, and attempt to use U.S. infrastructure to launder those funds."
If convicted, Delgado faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison per count. He has remained in federal custody since his arrest in November 2012 on an unrelated federal money laundering conspiracy charge contained in a separate indictment (EP12CR2106). That indictment alleges that Delgado is responsible for attempting to launder about $1 million in alleged drug distribution proceeds.
The El Paso FOCUS is a multi-agency financial strike force that detects and targets a wide variety of financial crimes. It is comprised of the following agencies: HSI, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the U.S. Secret Service, and the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC). Each participating agency utilizes its own unique authorities to enhance the task force's capabilities. Strike force members target financial crimes such as money laundering, mortgage and bank fraud, structuring, trade-based money laundering, money transmitting businesses/couriers, bulk cash smuggling and other financial crimes.
The El Paso FOCUS also aggressively targets assets illegally derived by criminal organizations.
HSI encourages the public to report any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. The online tip form may be accessed following this link: http://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form