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FBI Probes BofA for Laundering Mexican Drug Cartel Money

The FBI is investigating Bank of America’s involvement with Los Zetas, the largest Mexican drug cartel.  In June 2012, the agency filed an affidavit in a Texas court disclosing its intent to investigate the bank for possible violation of federal anti-money laundering laws.  The Bank Secrecy Act requires banks to report transactions involving more than $10,000; maintain policies and procedures to root out and guard against money laundering; and screen “high-risk” clients for indications that they might be involved in illegal activity.  The FBI probe is investigating whether the bank established and maintained the internal controls needed to root out and report suspicious activity. 

Bank of America has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but even if it did not participate in the money-laundering scheme, the bank could face fines and sanctions for failing to spot suspicious activity and report it to authorities, according to attorneys.  According to the FBI, brothers Miguel Angel Trevino Morales and Oscar Omar Trevino Morales, allegedly among the top leaders of Los Zetas, used their brother as a front man for the money-laundering operation. 

Jose Trevino Morales, a U.S. citizen, opened a pair of accounts at Bank of America to handle some of the roughly $1 million per month his brothers were sending him to purchase, train and run quarter horses, which specialize in short-distance races.  Trevino Morales, who has pled not guilty to money-laundering charges, also deposited his winnings from various races, which reached nearly $1 million on one occasion, in the BofA accounts, according to the FBI. 

Morales made one of his largest deposits after one of his quarter horses, Mr. Piloto, won the All-American Futurity race in 2010 at Ruidoso Downs Race Track in New Mexico, according to the FBI. Morales’ account, which was under the name Tremor Enterprises LLC, was credited with $968,440 after the race, the FBI says. 

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