A "truck driver" from Altar, Mexico, tried to hide reporting requirements for about $800,000 he put into an Arizona bank over nine months, court records state.
Last week, the federal government seized about $82,000 from the account of the Mexican suspect, Ricardo Monteverde-Palazuelos. The action prompted the suspect and his attorney, Matthew Davidson of Nogales, to file a claim for the money with the asset Forfeiture Section of the Customs and Border Protection agency.
The court filing does not state that Ricardo Monteverde-Palazuelos earned the money by illegal means. Altar, located about 50 miles south of the Arizona border, is a prime staging area for smugglers. It's also known for its agricultural industry. Agents with the Customs Service's Office of Special Agent in Charge began the investigation into the suspect's "banking practices" in May.
After opening the Wells Fargo account, Monteverde-Palazuelos made 114 "structured" deposits totaling $795,223 between July 2011 and April 2012 at branches in Tucson and Green Valley. Each deposit was for less than $10,000. Federal law requires banks to file Currency Transaction Reports with the government when someone deposits more than $10,000.
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Agents were alerted to the suspicious deposits after several were made on the same day, triggering automatic transaction reports to be filed.
Court records say that Monteverde-Palazuelos "was employed as a truck driver" when the deposits were made.
A Google search turned up one Mexican newspaper article mentioning the suspect's name: In May, a 1999 pickup truck reportedly owned by Monteverde-Palazuelos was involved in a serious rollover crash while being driven by another man, who was said to have been drunk and speeding.
Monteverde-Palazuelo's lawyer, Davidson, tells New Times he prefers not to comment to the news media on a pending case.