ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A former Alaska bank employee suspected of loading $4.3 million in cash onto a cart seven years ago and fleeing with it to Mexico has been extradited to the United States.
Gerardo Adan Cazarez Valenzuela, 33, who was known as Gary Cazarez, was extradited after serving time in a Mexico prison, U.S. Attorney for Alaska Bryan Schroder announced Wednesday.
Cazarez on Wednesday was jailed in Anchorage. His attorney, Wayne Fricke of Tacoma, Washington, said Wednesday he did not want to comment.
Cazarez was 26 years old in 2011 when he worked as a cash vault services manager for KeyBank.
An FBI agent in 2011 named Cazarez as the theft suspect based on bank surveillance equipment, interviews with employees and Cazarez' admissions.
The FBI said Cazarez at 6:39 p.m. July 29, a Friday, entered the cash vault with three computer-size boxes on a rolling cart. He turned out the vault light and filled the boxes with cash, according to an investigator.
Sixteen minutes later, he was recorded pushing the boxes and a computer bag out of the vault. He loaded the boxes into a vehicle and was spotted returning the cart to the cash vault room.
Prosecutors said Cazarez drove to his home, transferred the cash to duffel bag suitcases and drove to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. With his girlfriend, who was not charged, Cazarez boarded a private charter and flew to Seattle, prosecutors said.
In Seattle, Cazarez bought an AK-47 rifle, a handgun and ammunition for $4,000, according to the FBI. The next day, the couple bought a used compact car from a dealer in Auburn, Washington, and drove south. Their destination was the home of Cazarez's uncle in the Mexican state of Sonora.
After reaching Tijuana, the couple abandoned the car and continued south on a bus, prosecutors said. However, at a checkpoint, Mexico authorities inspected their bags and found weapons, ammunition and about $3.8 million, according to the FBI in 2011.
Back in Anchorage, Cazarez had not shown up for work. Bank officials made repeated attempts to open the cash vault that Monday but could not because it had been time-locked. When the door was finally opened that afternoon, bank employees discovered that large amounts of cash were missing.
Cazarez if convicted faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, prosecutors said Wednesday.