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Feds expose shadowy, $500 million check-cashing chain in Hialeah and its real owner

Evelio Suarez learned the ropes of shadow banking during the last decade’s real estate boom while working for La Bamba, a chain of check-cashing stores that was once a sponsor of the Miami Heat.

But rather than quit the business after his boss and other employees at La Bamba were sent to prison, Suarez launched his own chain in Hialeah catering to people who couldn’t cash checks at conventional banks.

Now, Suarez, 53, could be facing a long prison sentence himself.

Suarez ran a trio of stores that cashed at least $500 million in fraudulent checks in 2013-14, federal prosecutors say. Arrested in late June, he is fighting charges of conspiring to commit money laundering, bribing a bank employee and tampering with a grand jury witness.

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