Former politician and husband arrested by FBI in money laundering, drug trafficking scheme

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Newark, NJ- A former congress woman from Paraguay, who is also running to be the mayor of the nation’s capital Asunción, was arrested by the FBI in a money laundering scheme related to drug trafficking.

Forty-year-old Cynthia Elizabeth Tarragó, who is a former member of the Paraguayan Congress and her 44-year-old husband, Raimundo Va, were arrested at a hotel in Newark, N.J., near Liberty International Airport last week.

 

The FBI took the couple into custody being charged with running a money laundering operation for what they thought were narcotic traffickers. The pair appeared in appeared in the United States District Court in Trenton on Friday last week.
Tarragó and her husband Va were both charged for participating in an international money laundering conspiracy operation. Lois H. Goodman the United States Magistrate Judge ordered the pair to be held without bail.

According to the U. S. Attorney Craig Carpenito,

“As alleged in the complaint, Tarragó, a former member of Paraguay’s legislature, brazenly offered to launder the proceeds of international drug trafficking, and even went so far as to offer to traffic in cocaine herself,” Carpenito said.

Carpenito also went on to explain that both Tarragó and Va had agreed to accept upwards of $2 million from undercover FBI agents who posed as narcotics traffickers. While meeting with the undercover agents, Tarragó and her husband Va agreed to launder the money from the drug trafficking operation, with the agreement of taking a 15% fee. They would do this by using financial accounts in an international network in order to disguise the funds from the illegal operation.

As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer according to court documents, “Tarragó and Va traveled to New Jersey and Florida on several occasions and accepted about $800,000 in cash from the purported drug traffickers. On multiple occasions, Tarragó offered to assist them with procuring large quantities of cocaine from Paraguay at an inexpensive price.”

During the undercover operation one of the agents reported of a car ride that took place where Tarragó and Va told them of how inexpensive marijuana and cocaine are in Paraguay and how easy it is to obtain the illegal substances.

Court documents also revealed,

“The couple told one of the undercover agents that they could get the drugs out of Paraguay, but told the man they believed was a narco-trafficker that he would need to get the drugs into the United States. Later in the conversation, the couple admitted they had a network that could import the drugs into the U.S.”

While conducting the investigation, Tarrago and Va met with the undercover agents in the United States on numerous occasions. The undercover agents obtained hours of video and audio recordings of their conversations and interactions with Tarrago and Va. The recordings included details on how the money laundering network operated. The agents also collected thousands and thousands of chat messages which gave detailed clearly how the laundering operation worked.

 

During the course of their investigations a third party in the scheme. Court documents show that Rodrigo Alvarenga Paredes, who is reported to be a “high-ranking member of a large money-exchange company in Paraguay.” Paredes is reported to be the key component in the operation that took the illegal money and laundered in Paraguay. At this time, he still remains at large out of the United States.

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Former politician and husband arrested by FBI in money laundering, drug trafficking scheme

 

Regarding Tarragó’s political ties, Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie explained,

“Money laundering is illegal no matter your position in society. The FBI follows the evidence and makes arrests based on the actions of those individuals. We will find and bring to justice anyone who uses unlawful means to enrich themselves with no regard for the law.”

 

According to Justice.gov the charges of money laundering conspiracy;

“carries a statutory maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the funds involved in the conspiracy.”

The investigation is ongoing.


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