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Financial Crimes

Father and son sentenced in black-market money laundering scheme

MIAMI - Herman Rafael Solorzano Caguaripano, 58, and his son, Herman Alejandro Solorzano Rincon, 32, both of Doral, Fla., were sentenced to prison for conspiracy to launder narcotics proceeds using the Venezuelan Black Market, following an investigation led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard sentenced Herman Rafael Solorzano Caguaripano to 168 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release. Herman Alejandro Solorzano Rincon was sentenced to 63 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release. Both pleaded guilty last July to the money laundering conspiracy.

Trial for the other 14 defendants is scheduled for Jan. 3, 2011 before Judge Lenard. The defendants include Georges Toutounji, 50, Fortunato Farache, 55, Douglas Enrique Sanchez Soto, 60, Edgar Hadad Azraca, 48, and Alba Villalobos Vergel, 61, all of Doral, Fla., Alfredo Ramon Soto Diaz, 42, Miguel Jose Perez Rivero, 32, Luis Enrique Homez Garcia, 36, and Henry Eduardo Bilbao Movilla, 61, all of Miami, Rafael Polanco, 38, of Hollywood, Fla., Antoine Jean Melhem, 51, of Coral Gables, Fla., Johan Alberto Rincon Medina, 58, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., Nercido Sosa Medina, 58 of New York, and Luis Rafael Diaz Plaza, 41, of Puerto Rico.

"ICE has taken a leading role to focus our efforts on targeting the individuals and criminal organizations involved in the flow of large quantities of illicit money across the U.S. border," said Anthony V. Mangione, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Miami. "The black-market bolivar exchange is an example of the sophisticated and complex systems used by drug trafficking organizations to launder narcotics proceeds. ICE's financial investigations are designed to target, disrupt and dismantle these payment systems which threaten the financial infrastructure of the United States."

In September 2008, ICE special agents assigned to the HSI Financial Investigations Group in Miami initiated an investigation into financial transactions involving the proceeds of narcotics trafficking. According to the indictment and previously filed complaints, the defendants would receive contracts to pick up narcotics proceeds in Puerto Rico and New York and then smuggle the money to South Florida. Once the currency was picked up in Puerto Rico or New York, it was secured in hotel room safes and in locked bags kept in the hotel room. Members of the conspiracy would then secretly transport the currency, usually in $100,000 increments, via commercial air, to South Florida. The money would be divided into smaller amounts to avoid the possible seizure of all the currency if detected by law enforcement. Once in Miami, the money was either deposited in various bank accounts in the names of nominees or delivered to individuals in South Florida.

The investigation was conducted by ICE HSI in Miami with the assistance of ICE HSI in San Juan and New York, Office of the ICE Attaché Caribbean, the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Broward County Money Laundering Task Force, the Florida City Police Department, City of Indian Creek Police Department, the Doral Police Department, the Broward Sheriff's Office, and the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department Forensic Imaging Bureau.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Gonzalez.