MRK Casa de Cambio in San Ysidro. Image via

The owner of a local currency exchange business pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges for violating laws aimed at preventing money laundering.

Marco Gonzalez, 47, owner of MRK Casa de Cambio in San Ysidro, admitted in San Diego federal court to intentionally failing to adhere to anti-money laundering laws and regulations imposed on U.S. financial institutions, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which said Gonzalez “caused MRK Casa de Cambio to engage in cash transactions without applying adequate scrutiny to the source, purpose, ownership, or destination of the funds.”

Prosecutors say he did not disclose with the Secretary of the Treasury that Casa de Cambio had Mexico-based offices and branches, reported false and incomplete information in connection with the business’ registration and filed false or materially misleading reports of currency transactions exceeding $10,000 and reports of suspicious activity.

The charge of willful violations of the Bank Secrecy Act carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison, forfeiture, and a $500,000 fine, according to prosecutors, who said the Department of Homeland Security Investigations looked into “millions of dollars of transactions at MRK Casa de Cambio from approximately 2015 to 2020.”

Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 2.

“Communities along the Southwest border are particularly vulnerable to money laundering, and HIS is committed to protecting our communities by investigating the financial networks and third-party money launderers that facilitate introduction of the illicit proceeds into the U.S. financial system,” said Cardell Morant, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations, San Diego.

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