HOUSTON (KIAH) – Five people in Texas, including two here in Houston, are facing charges after investigators say the group conspired to launder millions of dollars.

Michael Dean Richards appears for his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy at 10 a.m. Friday. Authorities arrested Branden Denver Richards and Douglas Paul Michael Davis, who were also from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, last week. They are also set to appear Friday. Vinh Quang Phan, and Diana Le Phan, both of Houston, are scheduled to appear in federal court next week.

A federal grand jury returned an 11-count superseding indictment Oct. 6 charging all five with conspiring to launder monetary instruments and conspiring to engage in monetary transactions in criminally derived property.

The Phans are also charged with six counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived property, operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business and conspiracy to do so.

The indictment states the Phans ran an unlicensed money transmitting business that sent funds received in cash. Authorities say some of this money, including the cash from Michael and Brandon Richards and Davis, were from trafficking, distribution and sale of controlled substances. 

During the 21-month conspiracy, the unlicensed money transmitting business received and transmitted more than $32 million, according to the charges.

The indictment alleges the Phans either drove the money across the country or put them in the banking system for transmission through bank accounts, virtual currency accounts and the purchase and transfer of virtual currency. To carry out the conspiracy, Vinh and Diana Phan allegedly used bank accounts and virtual currency accounts in their names, in the names of three businesses they registered with the state of Texas or in the names of co-conspirators. They did not register their money transmitting business with the Department of the Treasury, nor did the state of Texas license them to engage in money transmission, according to the charges.

All five face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and a maximum of 10 years for conspiring to engage in monetary transactions in criminally derived property. The Phans also face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiring to operate or operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.