Drugs and Money: Laundering Latin America's Cocaine Dollars

By Robert E. Grosse | Go to book overview

Chapter 11

Retail Money Laundries, 1990–95

This chapter describes a number of retail-level money laundering ventures in the United States. The point is to demonstrate the many kinds of schemes used to carry out the laundering process of the initial cash generated by street sales of cocaine and other drugs. More than anything else, the set of examples offered here points out the wide variety of businesses used to launder drug money and the ways in which they relate to the banking system, through which most of the drug proceeds ultimately pass.


THE EXPORT/IMPORT COMPANY1

In 1990, a small export/import company near the Miami airport was investigated because government agents had tailed couriers carrying large quantities of drug cash to this destination. The situation was obviously suspicious for this reason, and it was especially interesting as a case in which the company was participating in the Colombian black market in foreign exchange.

The company, MAC Imports, run by Patricia Saucedo, was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash on at least a weekly basis, and it was using some of these funds to pay for export shipments to Colombian clients. MAC Imports would arrange with Colombian businesspeople to buy goods such as machine parts, tractors, motors, and other equipment. The businesspeople would pay via black market transactions in which they delivered pesos to black market dealers in Colombia, and the black market dealers arranged to have dollars delivered to MAC Imports in Miami. The Colombian businesspeople did not necessarily know that they were buying drug dollars, but they did know that they were illegally buying dollars outside of the government-controlled exchange system of Colombia.

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