A bank employee admitted his role in a Mexican drug cartel that involved the deposit in cash of more than $8 million in numerous accounts used by defendants to funnel money to locations throughout the country including Buffalo, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. announced Monday.
Presiliano Garcia, 33, pleaded guilty in federal court to a felony. The charges carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The crime occurred between 2012 and March 2016 when Garcia – a personal banker at Bank of America branches in California – opened 36 accounts that were utilized by multiple co-defendants. A total of $8,359,223 – split into 1,092 cash deposits structured between $8,000 and $9,990 – and made in 15 different states, were funneled into these accounts opened by Garcia.
Approximately 205 suspect customers were identified by Bank of America as potentially linked to the defendant. Many of the suspect customers had similar names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers or addresses.
Garcia’s crime occurred because he knew felonies were being committed, but he did not file any suspicious activity reports or notify authorities. Garcia admitted his actions concealed the activities of his co-defendants.
Garcia is one of seven defendants allegedly involved in an illegal narcotics operation stretching from Sinaloa, Mexico to Western New York. The organization shipped drug packages to various states including New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Colorado.
To date, five of the seven defendants have been convicted in this case. The two remaining defendants are scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 22, 2019.
Garcia is scheduled to be sentenced April 3 before U.S District Judge Elizabeth Wolford.