LOS ANGELES — Federal agents seized more than $65 million in cash and made multiple arrests during a Wednesday raid of fashion companies allegedly linked to a drug cartel money laundering ring in Los Angeles’ Fashion District.
More than 1,000 agents scoured over 40 locations — including 19 storefronts, six warehouses and a mansion in Bel-Air — as part of three separate investigations run by Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service and Drug Enforcement Administration.
The nine people who were arrested worked for Yili Underwear, Gayima Underwear, Pacific Eurotex and QT Fashion, which operates the brands QT Maternity and Andres Fashion. Maria Ferre S.A. de C.V., a business based in Sinaloa, Mexico, is also allegedly involved in the money laundering.
The QT Fashion employees who were arrested were Andrew Jong Hack Park, Sang Jun Park and Jose Isabel Gomez Arreoloa. From Yili Underwear and Gayima Underwear, Xilin Chen and Chuang Feng Chen were arrested. At Pacific Eurotex, chief executive officer Morad Neman, chief financial officer Hersel Neman, Mehran Khalili and Alma Villalobos were arrested and indicted.
Aixia Chen, Xilin Chen’s daughter, is a fugitive currently being sought by authorities. The agencies are also searching for Luis Ignacio Orozco Munoz, Armando Arturo Chavez Gamboa and Daisy Corrales Estrada, who are all linked to Maria Ferre in Mexico.
For Homeland Security’s probe, which started 16 months ago under the code name “Operation Fashion Police,” the organization issued warrants on more than 30 bank accounts containing about $19 million in deposits allegedly derived from trade-based money laundering. During Wednesday’s search, its agents seized what it conservatively estimated to be another $49 million in cash. Millions of dollars were crammed into filing boxes and inside duffle bags.
“We’re in the process of seizing contents of several warehouses,” said Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “It is still very much ongoing.”