Kane County authorities want more than $216,000 that was seized in February from an Aurora hotel permanently forfeited to the state.
Two men were arrested on Feb. 21 after Kane County authorities were conducting a money laundering investigation and found more than $200,000 in a propane tank of a repackaged gas grill box in a hotel room, according to court records.
Marco A. Castaneda-Chavez, 37, of the 0-99 block of Hubbard Way, Montgomery, and Francisco J. Gil-Cardenas, 59, of the 50 block of East Munz Road, Crete, face felony charges of money laundering in excess of $100,000. The charge carries a possible prison term of four to 15 years.
Chavez is due in court on May 29. His defense attorney, Kathleen Colton, is seeking to have his arrest quashed and any evidence gathered banned from court. Gil-Cardenas is due in court on May 31.
Prosecutors want the money permanently forfeited as well.
According to court documents, a Kane County sheriff’s deputy was conducting surveillance outside a hotel on the 2400 block of Sullivan Road in Aurora on Feb. 21 when he ran the Texas license plates on a Jeep Wrangler.
The check showed the vehicle crossed the Mexican border on Feb. 13, but the vehicle’s owner was different from the name provided by a hotel guest, according to court documents. The deputy also checked with El Paso authorities, who noted the Jeep had crossed back and forth over the border three times in February.
The deputy, according to court documents, pulled over two men who came out of the hotel and left in the Jeep. Gil-Cardenas, who was driving, told authorities he had just bought the vehicle from Chavez and was going to drive it to Mexico, records show. Authorities found: $2,900 in the Jeep’s center console; four bundles of cash on Chavez totaling $6,686; and four bundles on Gil-Cardenas totaling $5,130.
Colton said her client is contesting that the $6,686 is his; she declined to comment further on the case until next week’s hearing.
Authorities took the men back to their hotel room, and a search dog honed in on a large gas grill box that appeared to have been opened and then retaped, court documents said. Inside, authorities found $201,255, court records state.
“During an interview, Gil stated that Chavez-Castaneda employs him to drive currently back to Mexico and pays him $7,000 per trip, plus approximately $1,500 for expenses,” according to court documents.
Gil-Cardenas is being held on $1 million bail. Chavez is being held on $500,000 bail.