Fentanyl packages
Fentanyl packages. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A former Wells Fargo employee pleaded not guilty Thursday to bank fraud charges for his alleged role in laundering millions of dollars following fentanyl sales by 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.

Federal prosecutors allege Aguilera transferred millions of dollars across the border via wire transfer. The FBI linked the funds 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 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. They said Aguilera was paid around $4,000 for his part in the scheme.

After Aguilera’s plea, Wells Fargo issued a statement saying, “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.”

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

Updated at 12 p.m., Friday, May 10, 2019

– City News Service