A branch manager at a bank in Rio Rico is accused of conspiring to open fraudulent accounts that were used to funnel millions of dollars in cash from the United States to Mexico.
Carlos Antonio Vasquez, 39, was arrested and released on his own recognizance late last month after federal prosecutors filed a four-count complaint against him at U.S. District Court in Tucson, court records show.
According to the complaint, from Feb. 17, 2017 until Sept. 12, 2019, Vasquez was part of a conspiracy in which a suspect identified in the document only as “The Handler” would recruit people to open accounts at the bank. The Handler, as well as many of the recruits, were citizens and residents of Mexico, the complaint says.
The Handler or another co-conspirator would allegedly bring the recruits to the bank in Rio Rico, where Vasquez or another co-conspirator would help them apply for an account in their name. However, the documentation for the accounts, including the account numbers and access devices, were immediately given to The Handler or a co-conspirator.
Once the accounts were opened, the government alleges, they “would then receive large incoming cash deposits from various locations across the United States.”
After the cash was deposited into the so-called “funnel accounts,” Vasquez or his co-conspirators then sent the funds, totaling approximately $10.3 million, to Mexico via wire transfer.
Bank records showed that Vasquez personally opened at least 11 funnel accounts and executed 48 wire transfers from the accounts to Mexico, according to the complaint. He also allegedly instructed The Handler or other co-conspirators on how to deposit the cash in the funnel accounts in a way that wouldn’t arouse suspicion from the bank.
What’s more, the complaint says, when other bank employees did become aware of unusual activity in a funnel account, Vasquez would warn The Handler or a co-conspirator to close the account before it generated further suspicion.
Vasquez worked for the bank, identified in the documents only as “Bank A,” since at least 2013, becoming manager of its branch in Rio Rico in approximately 2015, according to the complaint.
A Tucson-based lawyer whose signature appeared on Vasquez’s conditions of release document did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the case.
Vasquez was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday in Tucson.