Ex-Wells Fargo employee accused of laundering money for drug traffickers

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SAN DIEGO — A former Wells Fargo employee pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal bank fraud charges for his alleged role in laundering millions of dollars for Mexican drug traffickers.

Leopoldo Aguilera, 57, of Tijuana, is accused of taking part in a money laundering operation based in Tijuana, but which operated primarily in San Diego.

Wells Fargo issued the following statement:

“We identified this issue and brought it to the attention of the FBI.  Wells Fargo takes these matters very seriously and we are committed to maintaining the information security of our customers.”

Federal prosecutors allege Aguilera wire transferred millions across the border, which the FBI linked to narcotics sales, “specifically the sale of multi-kilogram amounts of fentanyl in the Midwest,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Prosecutors say Aguilera “opened 26 bank accounts at Wells Fargo bank and executed 229 international wire transfers totaling $7.4 million,” for the benefit of the unspecified criminal organization.

Of those 26 bank accounts, 11 were allegedly created by Aguilera under false names.

Federal investigators seized 17 bank accounts, which contained at least $160,000, according to prosecutors, who said Aguilera was paid around $4,000 for his part in the scheme.

Aguilera was arrested by FBI agents on May 2, and faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted.

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