Miami, Fl. – South Florida federal prosecutors have charged a Doral business owner with facilitating a $140 million transnational illicit gold smuggling operation aimed at laundering cash with alleged ties to criminal activity.
According to the criminal complaint affidavit unsealed yesterday, Jesus Gabriel Rodriguez, Jr., 45, owned and operated Transvalue, a South Florida company that transported gold, cash, and other valuables by armored truck, both domestically and internationally. It is alleged that from about March 2015 to September 2016, Rodriguez used his industry experience and contacts to facilitate the importation of thousands of kilograms of illicitly-sourced gold being flown into the United States from Curacao. The sellers of the gold were co-conspirators based in the Caribbean. The buyers of the gold were co-conspirators based in South Florida and Latin America who earned volume-based commissions by procuring gold for NTR Metals (now, Elemetals LLC). NTR Metals was a U.S. precious metals refinery with policies in place to combat money laundering, including not buying gold from Curacao, a country with no gold mines that is commonly used as a waypoint for gold illegally mined in, and smuggled out of, South America. Rodriguez helped co-conspirators dodge NTR Metals’ anti-money laundering policy and get the gold past U.S. Customs by working to conceal the gold’s illegal origins and connections to Curacao, says the affidavit.
For example, it is alleged that Rodriguez coordinated transportation for the gold that routed it through different countries before reaching its final destination in Miami: from Curacao to the United States, to the Cayman Islands, and back to the United States. According to the charges, Rodriguez hired brokers to clear the gold through U.S. Customs at Miami International Airport (MIA), where customs documentation was introduced falsely identifying the gold as having originated in the Cayman Islands, not Curacao. Then, Rodriguez used his company’s armored trucks to transport the smuggled gold from MIA to NTR Metals’ precious metals refinery in Doral, it is alleged. To pay for the gold, “clean” money was wire-transferred to companies owned by co-conspirators.
The criminal complaint against Jesus Gabriel Rodriguez, Jr. charges him with one count of conspiring to commit money laundering. He is scheduled to make his first appearance in federal district court on Thursday, June 24, at 1:30 p.m., before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Becerra, who sits in Miami.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami, Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, and Tyler R. Hatcher, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Miami Field Office, announced the charges against Rodriguez.
FBI Miami, HSI Miami, and IRS-CI Miami investigated the case, with assistance from DEA-Miami and law enforcement partners in Curacao. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Walter M. Norkin and Andrea Goldbarg. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Klco is handling the asset forfeiture aspects of this matter.
This prosecution was part of “Operation Arch Stanton,” which is a result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, and other priority transnational criminal organizations that threaten the citizens of the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence driven, multi-agency approach to combat transnational organized crime. The OCDETF program facilitates complex, joint operations by focusing its partner agencies on priority targets, by managing and coordinating multi-agency efforts, and by leveraging intelligence across multiple investigative platforms.
Criminal complaints and affidavits contain mere allegations. Defendants are considered innocent unless and until found guilty in a court of law.
A copy of this and related press release appear on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls.
Court documents and information on the case appear on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 21-mj-03160.
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