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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 9, 2019

Wells Fargo Bank Personal Banker Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering and Bank Fraud

Assistant U. S. Attorney Blanca Quintero (619) 546-7118    

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 9, 2019

SAN DIEGO – Leopoldo Lara Aguilera, a former Wells Fargo personal banker, pleaded guilty in federal court today to money laundering conspiracy and bank fraud. 

Aguilera was arrested by FBI agents on May 2, 2019, for his participation in an international money laundering organization based in Tijuana, Mexico which operated primarily in San Diego.

According to the plea agreement and other public records, Aguilera abused his position of trust as a personal banker with Wells Fargo Bank by opening bank accounts with false identities and wire transferring millions of dollars to Mexico. Aguilera conducted these transactions in exchange for thousands of dollars in cash payments from the criminal organization.  The FBI’s investigation linked these funds to the sale of narcotics, specifically the sale of multi-kilogram amounts of fentanyl in the Midwest. 

Aguilera pleaded guilty to opening twenty-six bank accounts for the money laundering organization, including eleven that were created by Aguilera using fictitious identities.  Specifically, Aguilera used his position as a personal banker with Wells Fargo Bank to knowingly enter false names, passport numbers, and dates of birth on the fictitious bank accounts.  These eleven fictitious accounts alone were used by the criminal organization to wire transfer a total of $3.8 million to Mexico, the vast majority of those wire transfers were conducted by Aguilera himself.  Aguilera's use of these fictitious accounts were identified by Wells Fargo and brought to the attention of the FBI.   

In conjunction with Aguilera’s arrest, the FBI identified and seized seventeen bank accounts that belonged to the money laundering organization containing in excess of $230,000.

The case was investigated by the FBI San Diego Cross Border Violence Task Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.  The investigation was assisted by the participation of Wells Fargo Bank’s internal investigators in Arizona and California.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Blanca Quintero.

DEFENDANT                                                                       Case Number: 19-CR-1955-BAS

Leopoldo Lara Aguilera                           Age:  57                                                 Tijuana, Mexico

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Money Laundering Conspiracy – Title 18, U.S.C., Sections 1956(h) and 1957
Maximum penalties: 20 years’ imprisonment and $500,000 fine

Bank Fraud – Title 18 U.S.C., Section 1344
Maximum Penalties: 30 years’ imprisonment and $1,000,000 fine 

AGENCIES

Federal Bureau of Investigation’s San Diego Cross Border Violence Task Force

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
CAS10-0907-Aguilera
Updated September 9, 2019