San Diego, California - Luis Fernando Figueroa, a former Wells Fargo personal banker, was arrested Wednesday by FBI agents and made his initial court appearance today on charges of participating in an international money laundering conspiracy. Figueroa’s apprehension marks the latest in a string of indictments and arrests tied to an international money laundering organization based in Tijuana, Mexico that operated primarily in San Diego, California. Between January and March of 2018, seven leaders of this organization were charged and arrested in San Diego.
To date, five of the charged leaders have pleaded guilty.
According to the indictment and other public records, the international money laundering organization laundered approximately $19.6 million dollars in narcotics proceeds on behalf of Mexican-based drug trafficking organizations, including the Sinaloa Cartel, between 2014 and 2016.
The money laundering organization recruited individuals to serve as “funnel account holders” and open personal bank accounts at Wells Fargo Bank and other banking institutions. Other members of the money laundering organization, known as “couriers,” travelled to San Diego, Los Angeles, the East Coast, and other U.S. cities, where they picked up and transported amounts of bulk cash ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in narcotics proceeds.
Once in possession of the money, the couriers deposited the money into the funnel bank accounts controlled by the money laundering organization. These funnel bank accounts were maintained at Wells Fargo Bank, as well as other domestic financial institutions. Subsequently, the funds were transferred from these United States-based accounts via international wire transfers to a series of Mexico-based shell companies operated by the money laundering organization. Once in Mexico, the funds were transferred to representatives of the Sinaloa Cartel.
This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise of federal, state and local law enforcement. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations and enterprises.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Blanca Quintero and Jose Castillo.
Name Age Hometown
Luis Fernando Figueroa 30 Tijuana, Mexico
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments (18 U.S.C. § 1956(h)).
Conspiracy (18 U.S.C. § 371).
Operation of an Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business (18 U.S.C. § 1960(a))
Maximum Penalties: Term of custody up to 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the monetary instrument or funds involved, and 5 years of supervised release.
*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment, information, or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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