Leader of International Money Laundering Organization Pleads Guilty
Assistant U. S. Attorneys Blanca Quintero and Daniel Silva (619) 546-7118
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – June 18, 2019
SAN DIEGO – Manuel Reynoso Garcia of Tijuana pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that he led an international money laundering organization that moved more than $19 million in cash from the United States to bank accounts controlled by shell companies in Mexico.
The FBI’s multi-year investigation targeted Reynoso as one of the key leaders of the Tijuana- and San Diego-based money laundering organization. Reynoso, the last of eight defendants to plead guilty in the case, admitted laundering drug trafficking proceeds on behalf of Mexican-based organizations, including the Sinaloa Cartel, through unlicensed money transmitting businesses. As a result of this case, the organization has been dismantled.
Between 2014 and 2017, the defendant admitted that the conspiracy employed various sophisticated money laundering techniques with the goals of distancing his organization, and the criminal organizations he worked for, from the transactions. Through the use of funnel accounts, bulk cash deposits by paid third-parties, unlicensed money transmitting businesses, shell companies, and various layers of transactions that provided no legitimate business purpose, nor provided any commercial value, Reynoso was able to turn cash located in various U.S. cities into funds in Mexican financial institutions – all for a fee.
The money laundering organization recruited individuals to serve as “funnel account holders” – that is, nominee accountholders in Southern California, primarily in San Diego. Other members of the organization based in Southern California and Northern Mexico, known as “couriers,” travelled to cities throughout the United States to provide a cash pick up and transport service for bulk cash proceeds of unlawful activity in amounts that ranged between $150,000 and $600,000. Once in possession of the money, the couriers deposited the money in smaller increments into the nominees’ funnel accounts, and eventually transferred the funds to shell corporations managed by the organization at Mexican financial institutions. Once in Mexico, the funds ultimately made their way to representatives of the Sinaloa Cartel and other criminal organizations.
“We are making it as difficult as possible for drug traffickers to finance and profit from their crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “This investigation has made sure that the Sinaloa Cartel and others like it have one less way to wash their dirty money.”
“With this final conviction, Reynoso’s money laundering organization has been dismantled,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Scott Brunner. “Shutting down illegal cash proceeds returning to the drug cartels is like stopping the blood flow to the heart of these major criminal enterprises. The FBI will continue to strike at the heart of dangerous drug trafficking organizations in order to keep our communities safe.”
“Money launderers seeking to introduce illegally-generated funds into the United States financial system through bulk cash deposits, couriers, and funnel accounts will not be tolerated by the federal government,” stated Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner of IRS Criminal Investigation. “The IRS is proud to share its hallmark financial investigative expertise in this and other increasingly sophisticated financial investigations.”
Sentencing is scheduled for September 16, 2019, before U.S. District Judge William Q. Hayes.
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 Daniel Silva.
DEFENDANT Case Number 17-CR-2203-WQH
Manuel Reynoso Garcia Age: 63 Tijuana, Mexico
SUMMARY OF CHARGES*
Money Laundering Conspiracy – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1956(h)
Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison, $500,000 fine
Federal Bureau of Investigation’s San Diego Cross Border Violence Task Force
IRS Criminal Investigations