A Wells Fargo personal banker pleaded guilty on Thursday to knowingly opening bank accounts for people working with the Sinaloa cartel.
Thirty-year-old Luis Figueroa of Tijuana admitted he took part in the money-laundering scheme that stretched across the US.
Between 2014 and 2016, money-laundering organizations recruited people who would open bank accounts for the cartel's drug money, according to the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of California. The operation laundered over $19 million dollars in narcotics proceeds.
The drug money would be deposited into the bank accounts, also known as "funnel accounts," in amounts below the threshold for regulatory reporting.
Cash couriers would first pick up the drug money, oftentimes stuffed it into "shopping bags, duffel bags or shoeboxes," and then deposit it into Wells Fargo and other banks, the Justice Department said in a press release.
The couriers would split the funds into $22,000 to $45,000 increments and deposit them into the funnel accounts. The money would be wired to shell companies based in Mexico and then picked up by the cartel.