Miami-Dade County

Women accused of hiding $2.4 million in luggage also linked to alleged Medicare fraud

In this 2013 file photo, a baggage handler unloads luggage from an incoming flight at Miami International Airport.
In this 2013 file photo, a baggage handler unloads luggage from an incoming flight at Miami International Airport. El Nuevo Herald Staff

Two of three travelers arrested at Miami International Airport after arriving from the Dominican Republic for allegedly concealing more than $2.4 million in their luggage have also been linked to alleged involvement in Medicare fraud, according to federal court records.

Mildrey González and daughter Milka Alfaro have been charged in a case in which defendants allegedly submitted false Medicare claims, according to court documents that came to light on Thursday during a court proceeding.

The unexpected twist in the case adds a significant legal complication for the two women who were arrested in early June upon arriving at MIA from Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, along with Luis de Jesús Alonzo, who was identified as “head of household” in the indictment related to the more than $2.4 million allegedly discovered in their luggage. Alonzo is not charged in the Medicare case, according to court records.

Alonzo, González and Alfaro were set to be arraigned in the money case by Judge Andrea Simonton in Miami federal court Thursday, but she delayed the procedure until July 28 because the defendants have been unable to hire lawyers. The problem is that they don’t have much money after federal agents seized or restricted not only the more than $2.4 million discovered in their luggage but also $1.7 million in a bank account, as well as properties in Miami Beach and Miami, according to court records.

Alfaro and González have filed a motion requesting that the government grant them access to seized or frozen funds so they can pay their legal expenses.

That motion has been referred to another judge to resolve, but the process will take several more days.

The case of the $2.4 million allegedly concealed in luggage began on June 4 when González, Alfaro and a third person identified in the initial criminal complaint only as Person A were arrested when Customs and Border Protection officers found $2,467,616 in their bags — hidden in diapers, baby wipes and make-up bags. Person A in the criminal complaint was later identified as Alonzo in the indictment.

The criminal complaint also said that González had told agents that she had originally transported the money from the United States to the Dominican Republic in February. The complaint did not explain the reason for this back-and-forth movement of the cash.

Defendants and their lawyers declined to comment after the court hearing Thursday. All the defendants are U.S. citizens.

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