Man sentenced in money laundering case - Brownsville Herald: Local News

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Man sentenced in money laundering case

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Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2020 9:30 pm

A man accused of laundering over $850,000 was handed a 36-month sentence in federal court in Brownsville on Tuesday.

Tomas Rangel-Lopez was the second defendant sentenced on charges implicating six people in a money laundering and human smuggling operation that grossed over $2.6 million between February 2011 and November 2018, according to the case record.

As part of his plea agreement, Rangel-Lopez was ordered to testify and repay the agreed upon $854,932.25 he collected throughout the operation in addition to his three-year sentence.

Rangel-Lopez was indicted alongside his wife, Maria Del Carmen Alvarez-Monreal, who was sentenced to 15 months on Dec. 11. The two were the only defendants whose names have been unsealed in the case.

On Wednesday, Rangel-Lopez’s attorney asked U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera, Jr. for variance in sentencing based upon his departure from the sentencing guidelines in the case of Alvarez-Monreal.

The woman faced a sentence in the range of 30 to 37 months and was less involved in the operation than her husband, the attorney argued.

Government prosecutors argued that Rangel-Lopez should be sentenced to the low end of the 51 to 63 month guideline, which was enhanced based upon prior convictions for illegal re-entry and a state-level charge for not putting his two daughters in car seats.

According to the attorney, Rangel-Lopez first came to the United States in 1992, during which time he traveled frequently between the U.S. and Mexico going undetected.

In Mexico, family members began to inquire whether he could teach them and to cross the border while going undetected, and in 2009, the family went into business assisting others with transport, according to the attorney.

The court established that the couple estimated they assisted in the transport of 99 undocumented people into the United States. Rangel-Lopez’s brother was allegedly responsible for the transport, while Rangel-Lopez and others coordinated deposits and payments, the attorney stated.

A narrative of events attached to Rangel-Lopez’s plea agreement stated that he and others used Wells Fargo and Bank of America accounts, alongside Western Union and MoneyGram transfers, to facilitate the operation.

Rangel-Lopez and Alvarez-Monreal were arrested Nov. 8, 2018. Federal agents searched the master bedroom closet and discovered a loc box located on the floor with over $105,100 in cash. They also found notebooks consistent with human smuggling ledgers and numerous cellular phones.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com

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