WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are seeking to block a Texas magistrate judge’s order allowing the release of a couple accused of laundering cartel drug money at a small southwest Kansas bank.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas asked the court late Wednesday to revoke the bond release order of George and Agatha Enns of Meade, whom prosecutors say conspired with the former bank president of Plains State Bank to launder drug money for a Mexican cartel.
Two other former bank employees are also charged with failing to report the suspicious financial transactions.
Former bank president James Kirk Friend, former loan officer Matthew Thomas and former casher Kathy Shelman were never arrested and remain free on bond after making their initial court appearances Wednesday.
But federal prosecutors in Kansas are vehemently opposed to Tuesday’s decision by a federal magistrate judge in El Paso, Texas, where the Ennses were arrested, allowing George Enns to be released on a $50,000 bond and his wife to be released on a $35,000 bond.
The government alleges in a court filing that the release plans fail to address the issues of available assets in the United States and Mexico, which make it possible for the defendants to flee to avoid prosecution.
A pretrial services report prepared by the court’s probation office in El Paso noted George Enns told them he owns Southwest Water Well Services in Kansas as well as 425 acres in Chihuahua, Mexico, and that the Mexican property was sold for $1.8 million. His wife valued the well services company at $5 million. The report also mentioned a corn business in Mexico, but the defendants did not identify its location or value.
The government said it is aware of the couple’s multiple bank accounts in the U.S. and Mexico, none of which they disclosed to the probation office, as well as $28,340 in cash and a money counter in their home.
“The failure to identify these assets, as well as others, demonstrates an air of deceitfulness on the part of the defendants as well as the failure to fully examine and question them about these matters when evaluating them and the proposed plans of release,” prosecutors wrote.
The also failed to disclose that they had more than $28,000 in cash and a money counter in their home.
Prosecutors noted that the couple’s Southwest Windmill and Waterwell Service in Kansas, which Agatha Enns estimated to be worth $5 million, is available for them to use to flee as well as provide a source of income while they hide in another country.
In addition to asking the court to revoke the magistrate’s release order, they are seeking to have the couple returned to Kansas for a new detention hearing.
The Kansas couple was indicted last week on one count of money laundering conspiracy, 34 counts of money laundering and one count of attempted money laundering. Friend also faces a conspiracy count along with 29 counts of money laundering and one count of failing to file a suspicious activity report. Thomas and Shelman each face a single count for failing to file a suspicious activity report.
The indictment alleges that between 2011 and 2014, the Ennses deposited more than $6.8 million into their account at Plains State Bank; cash deposits totaled more than $1.6 million. The couple also had an account with Bank of America in El Paso containing about $1 million.
Their indictment in Kansas is part of a larger national investigation, which has resulted in 20 indictments against defendants in Indiana, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia, Oklahoma, Colorado and Mexico, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Wichita. In the Kansas case, investigators seized more than 5,000 pounds of marijuana and more than $2 million in cash.
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