35 swept up in
alleged money laundering raid
officials refuse to disclose details
Express Staff Writer
state and county law enforcement agents descended on four different Blaine
County locations at about 6 a.m. Tuesday to arrest suspects in an alleged
money laundering and alien smuggling ring.
law enforcement officers collect evidence from a mobile home in the
Sun Tree Hollow trailer park. However, even as they were hauling boxes of
materials from the trailer, the officers refused to say it was part of a
state and federal raid. Express photo by Willy Cook
By noon, 35
people were taken out of the valley. Six were arrested for alleged money
laundering and smuggling aliens. Another 29 were arrested for allegedly
being illegal aliens.
accused of money laundering and smuggling aliens were identified as
Francisco Herrera-Ceja, Rodrigo Herrera-Ceja, Lucia Herrera-Ceja, and Pier
Herrera-Ceja, all of Hailey, and Audelia Herrera-Ceja of Bellevue and
Jorge Chavez-Herrera of Ketchum.
whereabouts of the alleged illegal aliens were not released. Officials
indicated they would be deported.
laundering is a way of giving large amounts of money from drug deals or
other illegal transactions the appearance that they were accumulated by
legal means like retail sales.
McNeil, a public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s office in
Boise, said the indictments against the six valley residents have been
sealed by the U.S. District Court of Idaho. She said she did not know
where they were being held nor when they would go before a magistrate.
a possible reason for sealing the indictments is that the suspects have
not yet had opportunity to read them.
different sites that were raided Tuesday morning were 604 Pine St. in
Bellevue, 1021 Snow Flake in Hailey, 2921 Glenbrook Drive in Hailey, La
Mexicana, a general store at 400 N. Main St. in Hailey, and trailer No. 24
in the Sun Tree Hollow trailer park, south of Ketchum.
Attorney Ralph Gonzalez, Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling and McNeil
were all tight-lipped about saying anything about the early morning
arrests except what was in a press release sent out by Femling.
the names of those arrested, places raided and charges, the press release
only stated that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue
Service, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Idaho State Police and the Blaine
County Sheriff’s Office were involved in the arrests and execution of
who was contacted by cell phone en route between Pocatello and Boise, said
more details of the arrests would be made public Wednesday or Thursday.