Drugs and Money: Laundering Latin America's Cocaine Dollars

Drugs and Money: Laundering Latin America's Cocaine Dollars

Drugs and Money: Laundering Latin America's Cocaine Dollars

Drugs and Money: Laundering Latin America's Cocaine Dollars

Synopsis

Money laundering has been around as long as there have been illicit businesses, since criminals have always had to convert their ill-gotten gains into clean financial instruments in order to utilize them in legitimate business. Grosse explores how drug traffickers turn profits from street sales of cocaine and crack into bank accounts, airplanes, securities investments, and other uses. These schemes are both creative and extensive, from shipping suitcases of dollars to Mexico, to buying gold with drug cash in California, to faking the export of clothing from Colombia to Panama. The amounts of money involved are often staggering--hundreds of millions of dollars in most cases.

Excerpt

Money laundering is as old as illicit business, since criminals have to get their ill-gotten gains into clean financial instruments in order to use them in the legitimate business system. The process by which cocaine traffickers take dollars generated from street sales of cocaine or crack and convert them into bank accounts, airplanes, securities investments, and other uses is the topic of this book.

The whole subject is pretty hard to figure out for a non-participant. Imagine the problem of trying to hide the source of a suitcase full of perhaps $U.S. 400,000 in $5, $10, and $20 bills when the drug trafficker (or his or her money launderer accomplice) needs to convert cocaine sales into “legitimate” financial instruments such as bank deposits or investments. This is the task that has led government enforcement agencies to a point of attack in their efforts to reduce the flow of illicit narcotics to U.S. consumers. It is also the problem that faces drug cartel members as they make their sales.

Part of the purpose of this book is to describe and illuminate a wide variety of narcotics money laundering schemes. These ventures are almost unimaginably creative and extensive. From shipping suitcases of dollars to Mexico to buying gold with drug cash in California to faking the export of clothing from Colombia to Panama, the clandestine activities of the launderers are truly fascinating. The amounts of money involved are often staggering—hundreds of millions of dollars in most of the cases described here. All of the stories relate to the laundering of narcotics proceeds, mostly cocaine-derived dollars produced from the activities of Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers.

A second purpose of this book is to consider some of the concerns raised by money laundering. One major concern is for banks and other financial intermediaries that want to try to avoid becoming involved in a money laundering

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