Man pleads guilty to federal money laundering charges in Lexington

Lexington, KY — Leynner Andre Riascos Yepes, a Colombian national, entered a guilty plea in Lexington Tuesday to one count of a federal indictment, which charges him with promotional money laundering. A separate charge of conspiracy to launder drug trafficking proceeds will be dismissed at sentencing. The plea agreement was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Yepes’ plea is part of a larger ongoing case where large quantities of cocaine and fentanyl were allegedly seized.

The Bust and Seized Contraband

According to the plea agreement, on December 1, 2022, DEA investigators in Lexington were conducting physical and electronic surveillance of individuals suspected of drug trafficking and money laundering. They observed a conspirator exit an apartment carrying a large shopping bag and enter a white BMW. The vehicle was then followed to the TownePlace Suites located at 980 Midnight Pass, Lexington, KY. There, Yepes was seen receiving the shopping bag, which was later found to contain a large sum of U.S. currency believed to be drug proceeds.

Following this, the plea agreement says, Yepes was stopped by Kentucky State Police while operating a black Nissan Murano. Officers found $20,270 in the vehicle. A subsequent search warrant for Yepes’ hotel room led to the seizure of an additional $80,295, bringing the total amount of suspected drug proceeds seized to $100,565. Yepes admitted that this money was intended to promote drug trafficking crimes.

Financial Transactions and Laundering

Bank records obtained by the DEA indicated that Yepes held accounts in his name and made substantial cash deposits into those accounts. These deposits were often structured in suspicious ways, such as depositing approximately $20,000 in $2,000 increments into various ATMs in a single day. The money would then be wired in larger amounts, typically $25,000, to businesses or entities primarily located in Colombia, according to the plea agreement.

Yepes admitted that the total amount of laundered funds attributable to him is at least $150,000 but less than $250,000.

Legal Consequences

The statutory punishment for promotional money laundering includes a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, and a term of supervised release of not more than three years.

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