OAKLAND — In a sign that federal prosecutors in the Bay Area are targeting not just fentanyl traffickings but the swaths of cash it generates, the owners of a local money service business have been charged with laundering funds to “high risk drug trafficking areas” in Central America, court records show.
Silvana Jorge de Oliveira and Jose Luis Garcia, operators of Envios Express in Oakland, have been indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Federal prosecutors say they have evidence that the couple illegally $136,000 for one unidentified co-conspirator in a single month in 2020, by transferring funds to people in Mexico and Honduras.
The indictment alleges that Oliveira and Garcia broke regulations under the Bank Secrecy Act requiring operators of money transfer businesses to flag suspicious transfers and require certain information and identification for transfers totaling more than $3,000. Prosecutors also say that a confidential informant was able to successfully transfer funds — as much as $9,000 at a time — without showing ID or following other rules.
Federal agents searched the business in August 2022 and found a cache of “15,000 digital images of California Driver’s licenses and national ID cards from Central American countries,” as well as a few dozen physical ID cards in a drawer, according to court records. Prosecutors believe these were used to assist in fraudulent transactions.
The U.S. Attorney’s office has moved to restrict Oliveira and Garcia from operating the business while the case is pending. A judge has yet to rule on that motion.