El Rodeo Nightclub Pico Rivera

DEA complaint on club owner after probe

El Rodeo Night ClubPICO RIVERA, Calif. (HEWS) — Following a three-year investigation, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has issued a complaint against Edgar Fragoso, proprietor of El Rodeo Nightclub in Pico Rivera, for laundering money and dealing drugs, specifically methamphetamine from Mexico into and throughout the U.S.

The investigation lasted more than three years.

The DEA’s actions are contained in a complaint made available to HEWS Media, which details the furtive drug trafficking activity in which Fragoso participated, laundering drug proceeds, involving a Mexican drug dealer who resides in Mexico and his wife who lives in Southern California.

The DEA’s complaint also includes Fragoso’s mother who facilitated his money laundering activities and executed financial documents.

The investigation originated from another scheme in 2012. The agents were working with the Mexican drug dealer who told them he could launder money through El Rodeo.

In 2013, DEA in Riverside, along with the Internal Revenue Service investigated a money laundering organization run by Fragoso after receiving information from undercover operatives via DEA and IRS in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

According to operatives, Fragoso laundered drug proceeds for the Mexican drug trafficking organization through, among other methods, his bar, El Rodeo, in Pico Rivera.

Thereafter, the operatives made multiple payments to Fragoso at El Rodeo: three payments were for purchases of methamphetamine from the Mexican drug dealer and two payments were for a fictitious drug trafficking organization introduced to Fragoso by the undercover personnel, for which Fragoso laundered the drug proceeds and returned multiple checks, including from an account registered to his mother, Eva Meneses.

Initially, the laundering amounts were relatively small, under $6, 000. Then in May 2013, a $19, 000 request was processed.

Then, the drugs started flowing.

In late 2013 and early 2014, the operatives facilitated another methamphetamine purchase, on credit, from Gonzalez; partial payment was later made to Fragoso at El Rodeo.

Specifically, in November 2013, Gonzalez contacted the operatives and relayed that they had five kilograms of methamphetamine in Fort Worth. The price was $10, 500.

Fragoso then started laundering money for yet another fictitious drug dealer, introduced by the operatives, offering to launder the money through the purchase of properties and through construction opportunities. He also said he could launder money through promotional activities at his nightclubs.

Agents said Fragoso explained that operatives could bring the cash to the club, which would set up a night where the cash would be used to pay for the music, alcohol, and staff. The club would then write a check for “promotions” for an amount equaling the total amount of cash brought in, minus the percentage charged for laundering.

Fragoso explained that if the money was laundered this way, everyone would be clean; he would be clean and the money would come back clean.

Fragoso said he would be able to launder quantities of around $50, 000 and return the money within a few days; larger amounts required more time.

In April 2014, Fragoso agreed to launder $150, 000 through a construction scheme. The checks, numbered 560 and 561, were both written from a Bank of America account for “Vidal Vargus Construction.” Check 560, dated June 13, 2014, was for $30, 000, payable to “Kim, ” with the “for” line reading, “payment for loan.” Check 561, dated June 23, 2014, was also for $30, 000, with no payor listed, and the “for” line stating, “payment loan.”

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