A chain of restaurants in the Indianapolis area have been accused of being a money laundering operation. El Rodeo, a Mexican-themed restaurant, was the main focus of a police raid last fall on charges of tax fraud and money laundering. This week, the El Rodeo restaurant chain had civil forfeiture lawsuits filed against them in Marion and Tippecanoe counties in Indiana. There are multiple people and branches of the restaurant named in this lawsuit, and investigation into money laundering allegations has been ongoing since last November.
The restaurants named in the lawsuit were part of the El Rodeo chain, in the cities of Indianapolis, Richmond and West Lafayette. Jose Bustos, the manager of the El Rodeo restaurant in West Lafayette is one of the people named specifically in the lawsuit, but told local reporters he was not even aware that any charges had been filed.
The lawsuits do not disclose any details of the nature of the illegal activities by the people running the restaurants. They do, however, mention millions of dollars in frozen bank accounts as well as foreign currencies at their homes. Though prosecutors have not publicly shared any information regarding the crimes, the raids last November are believed to be a part of a grand jury investigation, a way to gather evidence of any financial crimes.
The court documents that were released earlier this week reveal that, as a result of the raid, nearly $3 million in U.S. currency was seized from bank accounts of the individuals involved in the case, as well as another $1.1 million in foreign money. The total amount of assets seized was over $5 million. The trial will be conducted in civil court, as nobody connected with El Rodeo has been convicted of any wrongdoing, but a civil forfeiture is a way for damaged parties to get their money back.