A former member of Paraguay’s Congress and her husband have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, U.S. authorities announced.
Cynthia Elizabeth Tarragó Diaz, 41, and her husband Raimundo Va, 45, agreed to accept at least $2 million in U.S. currency from individuals the couple thought were drug traffickers, according to a Wednesday statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey.
The alleged drug traffickers were undercover FBI agents investigating a money-laundering network.
The agents met with the couple numerous times and secured audio and video recordings detailing how the laundering network functioned.
Tarragó and Va allegedly traveled to New Jersey and Florida on numerous occasions and accepted nearly $800,000 that was laundered and transferred back into the account maintained by the agents. Tarragó also indicated she could help procure large amounts of inexpensive cocaine from Paraguay, authorities say.
Tarragó, a former television personality, was a member of Paraguay’s Congress until January 2019 and had, in late 2019, announced her intention to run for mayor of Asunción, the capital district.
The couple was arrested in November 2019 after arriving in Newark and charged along with a third invidual, Rodrigo Alvarenga Paredes, who remains at large in Paraguay.
According to the statement, Alvarenga Paredes is accused of coordinating laundering the money provided by the agents through a money-exchange company in Paraguay.
The couple faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to twice the funds involved in the conspiracy. They’re scheduled to be sentenced in January.
Tarragó’s attorney, listed as Andrea Bergman, could not immediately be reached to comment on Thursday. Va’s attorney David R. Oakley declined to comment on Thursday.