Crypto Exchange Operator to face 25 Years for Money Laundering
February 02, 2021 10:48 AM
Hugo Sergio Mejia, a 49-year-old California resident is expected to plead guilty to charges of operating an unlicensed exchange and money laundering.
Mejia who operated an unlicensed exchange from May 2018 to September 2020, has agreed to plead guilty to charges of money laundering and illegally transmitting money of about $13M during the speculated period.
U.S. Attorney’s Office accuses Mejia of using a suite of limited liability corporations to hide the true nature of his operations while exchanging cash for Bitcoins over two years.
The complaint accuses Mejia of transferring funds between Bitcoin(BTC) and U.S. dollars worth at least $13 million for his clients from May 2018 and September 2020 using his companies.
The proposed plea agreement states, Mejia, negotiated with a client who was working with law enforcement to exchange Bitcoin(BTC) for tens of thousands of dollars for 10 months between May 2019 and March 2020.
The client informed Mejia that his customer was an Australian methamphetamine buyer during a meeting in March 2020, He was still willing to proceed with the transaction. According to the client who asserted Mejia carried out numerous transactions worth over $500k,
“Mejia and the client who was working with law enforcement conducted five Bitcoin-cash transactions that cumulatively exceeded $250,000, the plea agreement states.”
The client conducted at least five transactions worth more than $250,000 in total.
Mejia was charged on Friday, Jan. 29, and is expected to plead guilty to one count of money laundering and one count of operating an unlicensed money exchange which he failed to register with the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
Mejia is expected to go before a U.S. district court in March and might face close to 25 years in federal prison.