On May 16, 2019, Mexican national, Luis Fernando Figueroa pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy charges. He engaged in these practices, laundering millions of dollars for the Sinaloa Cartel in his role as a Wells Fargo employee.
Figueroa along with several other co-conspirators laundered $19.6 million for the cartel between 2014-2016, according to court documents.
In a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Southern California, stated:
Other members of the money laundering organization, known as couriers, traveled to Los Angeles, Chicago, Charlotte, Boston, New Jersey, and New York City to pick up bulk cash narcotics proceeds that ranged from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in narcotics proceeds. The couriers made contact with individuals holding the bulk cash in private residences or public places such as parking lots and retail stores. The cash was typically concealed in shopping bags, duffel bags or shoe boxes.
Once in possession of the money, the couriers deposited the bulk cash in increments of $22,000 to $45,000 into the funnel bank accounts at Wells Fargo Bank and other U.S. banks controlled by the money laundering organization. The funds were then wire transferred from the funnel accounts to a series of Mexico based shell companies operated by the money laundering organization. Figueroa himself made multiple wire transfers from the funnel accounts knowing that the funds were from unlawful activity. Once in Mexico, the funds were transferred to representatives of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Figueroa is facing up to 20 years in prison for his crimes.
However, nearly four years after his conviction, the Mexican national has yet to be sentenced. And, he has not spent a day inside a jail cell since he was released on bail on November 16, 2018, only a few days after his arrest, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
So, where is he?
Why would a foreign national with close ties to the world’s most powerful drug cartel be released on bail, and allowed to remain free pending sentencing, when he represents a very obvious flight risk?
This case not only represents the shoddy work on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice when it comes to dealing with foreign criminals, but also yet another example of the very cozy relationship between Wells Fargo Bank and the Mexican drug cartels.
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