MIAMI — A University of Miami professor who studies organized crime and drug cartels was accused Monday of engaging in a plot to launder millions in dirty money from Venezuela.

Federal prosecutors in New York announced that Bruce Bagley, 73, was charged with money laundering and conspiracy after he “opened bank accounts for the express purpose of laundering money for corrupt foreign nationals.”

Bagley is a longtime UM international relations professor who wrote the book “Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today.” Over the years, Bagley has been a go-to quote for the media on topics including the failures of the U.S. war on drugs, violence in Haiti and, yes, corruption in Venezuela.

“Today’s charges of money laundering and conspiracy should serve as an object lesson for Bruce Bagley, who now faces a potential tenure in federal prison,” Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

According to a federal indictment, Bagley in November 2016 opened up a bank account on behalf of a company he owned. The account went little used until about November 2017, when he began receiving monthly deposits of “hundreds of thousands of dollars from bank accounts located in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.”

The feds say Bagley got $200,000 from each deposit, and would withdraw 90% in the form a cashier’s check — payable to an unnamed person described as a “Colombian individual” who told Bagley the money was the “proceeds from foreign bribery and embezzlement stolen from the Venezuelan people.”

Bagley entered into “sham contracts” to cover his tracks for the suspicious transaction, prosecutors said. Even after the account was shut down because of “suspicious activity in December 2018, Bagley opened up a new account to launder the money, taking 10% as his cut.”

Bagley, of Coral Gables, was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two counts of money laundering. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count.


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