An alleged crime ring tied to local nightclubs, high-end car dealerships and the hip-hop community used millions in cash from a Mexico media family -- but authorities don't know why.
With officials including Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon in attendance, police outlined the highlights of a suspected white-collar crime spree that resulted in the arrests of five people last week. Two of those arrested, Mario de la Fuente Manriquez and his son, Mario de la Fuente Mix, funneled at least $16 million to the United States, where it was used to set up and run clubs and car dealerships under false pretenses, police say.
Manriquez runs a media empire in northern Mexico that includes a major newspaper, TV station, and several cable TV companies. Reporters pressed police for theories on why a fortune in clean money would be used to fund shady businesses in Arizona; Kornegay said police still aren't sure of the motive.
A flow chart (pictured) released by police shows money passed from the de la Fuentes to Nazreth and Ara Derboghossian. Jodi Upton, Doug Allen, and Katie Peters were used as "straw" owners of the businesses, illegally concealing the true owners, Kornegay said.
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"Obviously, we are alleging they knew what was going on," he said.
Police believe the Derboghossians are Armenian; Nazreth Derboghossian is a permanent resident. The de la Fuentes are Mexican nationals.
Peters was released on bond, Allen was served a court summons. At least one other suspect is still being sought.