Viva El Taco
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The Viva El Taco restaurant. Photo courtesy Google Maps.

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Several fast-food Mexican restaurants in Colorado Springs appear to be implicated in what federal prosecutors say is a money laundering scheme involving proceeds from drug trafficking.

Prosecutors filed forfeiture paperwork in November naming 13 defendants in Wyoming and Colorado, The Casper Star-Tribune reported. Because the prosecutors' complaint is sealed, allegations are not visible to the public, but online court records indicate the filing is for a drug-related property seizure.

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The total amount of money seized is not clear, but 17 bank accounts were frozen, the Star-Tribune reported. At least two of those accounts were safe deposit boxes, containing $428,896 and $376,230 cash, the documents show.

Colorado Springs restaurants named in a federal court filing include three Taco Star locations, at 318 N. Wahsatch Ave., 7434 Rangewood Drive and 605 N. Circle Drive; two Monica's Taco Shop locations, at 30 E. Fillmore St. and 1805 Westmoreland Road; and the Albertacos at 4494 Austin Bluffs Parkway.

Rodolfo's Mexican Grill in Cheyenne also is among the restaurants named in federal documents, the Star-Tribune reported. Hilario Montejano-Aleman, the restaurant’s owner, also operates Viva El Taco at 5945 N. Academy Blvd. One of his bank accounts associated with the Colorado restaurant was frozen, too.

Over the course of December, attorneys for five of the claimants filed responses to the government’s allegations, the Star-Tribune reported. Those responses indicate that prosecutors allege their clients used fast-food restaurants to engage in the laundering of drug money. All five responses deny the allegations.

Attempts to reach a U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman were not successful Friday.

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Ellie is a crime and breaking news reporter. She's a proud Midwesterner, stationery hoarder and Earl Grey tea enthusiast. After interning at The Gazette in 2015, she joined the newspaper's staff in 2016.

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