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Financial Crimes
05/16/2014

South Texas man pleads guilty to money laundering for Mexican drug cartel

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A Mexican man residing in Brownsville pleaded guilty Friday for his role in conspiring to commit international money laundering, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Oscar J. Aguilar, 37, entered his plea May 16 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald G. Morgan. He will remain in custody pending his sentencing hearing, which is set for Aug. 18 before U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen. At that time, Aguilar faces up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

"HSI special agents often investigate complex financial schemes in order to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations," said Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala, HSI San Antonio. "We will continue to aggressively investigate fraudulent financial schemes that support criminal organizations and put our financial system in jeopardy."

According to court documents, Aguilar admitted to recruiting nine others, some of whom were family members, to open bank accounts at Bank of America in Brownsville. Later, co-conspirators in Florida deposited money from narcotics sales into these accounts. Aguilar's recruits withdrew the money in amounts under the $10,000 legal reporting requirement and gave that money to Aguilar or other co-conspirators. The recruits were paid for moving the money through their bank accounts.

After Aguilar received the money, he facilitated its crossing from Brownsville to Matamoros, Mexico, where it was delivered to the Gulf Cartel.

From September 2008 through November 2012, the conspirators moved $1,893,170 through nine bank accounts, with nearly $1.5 million from September 2011 through November 2012 alone.

Nine others connected to this case have been convicted. With the exception of Francisco Jesus Arambul-Cortez, who also pleaded to conspiracy to commit International money laundering, the eight others entered guilty pleas to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen Betancourt and Joseph Leonard, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.