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Financial Crimes

South Texas bail bonds manager pleads guilty to money laundering for drug trafficking organization

LAREDO, Texas — A south Texas woman pleaded guilty Monday to money laundering for a drug trafficking organization, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), along with the Drug Enforcement Administration with the assistance of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force's Financial Investigation Contractor.

Elizabeth Nevarez, 42, of Laredo, Texas, appeared before U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana where she pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering.

According to court documents, Nevarez admitted assisting the Ibarra drug trafficking organization in May 2010 after the arrest of Juan Ramon Ibarra Sr. and two co-conspirators for cocaine distribution. The Ibarra family approached Nevarez in her capacity as regional manager at AA Best Bail Bonds to obtain bond for Ibarra Sr.

During these discussions, Nevarez suggested the Ibarras transfer three valuable Laredo properties into her name in order to avoid seizure by the federal government. Nevarez forged the dates on the warranty deeds of the three properties to make it appear as though they were transferred prior to Ibarra Sr.'s arrest. Shortly after this transfer, Nevarez sold the properties for substantially less than their market value. She then transferred the proceeds into her personal bank accounts and purchased a house in San Antonio. Specifically, Nevarez admitted to these activities as they related to a residence located on the 400 block of Blue Lake Drive, a property located in the upscale Lakeside community of Laredo. The residence was constructed by Ibarra Sr. with drug proceeds in 2005.

Nevarez faces up to 20 years in prison and a substantial fine. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Nevarez has further agreed to forfeit her interest in a residence located on the 6300 block of Springtime Drive in San Antonio, and to a money judgment in the amount of $98,630.45. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys James Hepburn, Elizabeth Rabe and Mary Ellen Smyth, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting the case.