ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- An Anchorage Key Bank employee was charged with embezzlement after stealing millions of dollars in cash from a bank vault and smuggling the money to Mexico, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Gerardo Adan Cazarez Valenzuela -- also known as Gary Cazarez -- is accused of stealing $4.3 million on July 29 from a Key Bank in Anchorage. Valenzuela was employed by Key Bank as a cash vault services manager, federal authorities said.
Authorities aren't saying which Key Bank location Cazarez is accused of stealing from.
The heist is detailed in a redacted copy of an FBI special agent's affidavit filed in federal court Aug. 9.
The court papers say Valenzuela, 26, was seen on the bank's security camera footage entering the bank vault about 6:40 p.m. while pushing a rolling cart carrying three large computer boxes. Valenzuela turned off the lights and began loading cash into the boxes, the affidavit says.
According to the court papers, Valenzuela told federal agents he then loaded the boxes into a vehicle and drove to his Juneau Drive home, where he transferred the cash into several suitcases. He then boarded a private charter flight arranged two days earlier and flew to Seattle, the affidavit says.
At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Valenzuela hopped in a cab. He asked the cab driver if the driver knew where to find a gun. The driver took Valenzuela to an unknown place where Valenzuela bought an AK-47 and a handgun for $4,000 cash, the affidavit says.
Valenzuela and his girlfriend -- named as Leysa S. Bindas in the court document -- borrowed a silver BMW from Bindas's sister and drove to a hotel in Auburn, Wash. There, security cameras captured the couple bringing multiple suitcases to their hotel room. They checked out the next day, bought a Ford Fusion from an Auburn car dealership, and headed south to California, the agent wrote.
On July 31, the couple decided to drive to Mexico to visit Bindas' uncle, the affidavit says.
But the uncle suggested they ditch the car -- the Fusion couldn't handle terrain on the roads in Mexico, he told them -- and the couple bought bus tickets to Sonora, Mexico, instead, the affidavit says.
During the bus trip in Mexico the couple were pulled aside for screening at a security checkpoint.
"Upon realizing they were flagged, Valenzuela told Bindas they were in serious trouble," Agent Susan Cusack wrote.
The Mexican authorities asked Valenzuela to open his suitcases, and Valenzuela asked to go to a private room. When Valenzuela finally opened his luggage, the officers found guns, ammunition and about $3.8 million in cash, according to Cusack's affidavit.
On Aug. 1, a Monday, Valenzuela didn't show up for work at Key Bank. The next day, bank employees were at first unable to open the vault. They opened the vault later in the day and discovered about $4.3 million in cash missing, the affidavit says.
Valenzuela is charged with one felony count of embezzlement.
Meanwhile, in Mexico, Valenzuela was arrested Aug. 2. Valenzuela remains in custody in Mexico, and U.S. authorities are working to have him returned to Alaska to face criminal charges, according the U.S. Attorney's Office.
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