Massive Money Laundering Operation in LA Busted

Federal Officers Bust Huge Drug Cartel and Money Laundering Operation in Los Angeles

money laundering operationOn Wednesday, September 10th, federal authorities arrested 9 people in Los Angeles and seized over $65 million in cash in a massive raid on the LA Fashion District that targeted a money laundering operation owned by Mexican drug cartels.

Approximately 1,000 agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service carried out the money laundering operation bust on Wednesday morning, executing search and arrest warrants at over 80 garment manufacturing businesses in the area.

The businesses allegedly used the “Black Market Peso Exchange” to “clean” money for Mexican drug cartels that do business in the United States. Court documents allege that the garment manufacturers accepted US cash from drug cartels, then repaid the money in Mexican pesos through brokers after selling the garment businesses’ clothing in Mexico.

“Los Angeles has become the epicenter of narco-dollar money laundering with couriers regularly bringing duffel bags and suitcases full of cash to many businesses,” said Robert Dugdale, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California. “Because Los Angeles is at the forefront of this money laundering activity, law enforcement in Los Angeles is now at the forefront of combatting the issue.”

One particular case, unsealed on Wednesday during the money laundering operation bust, alleges that the Sinaloa drug cartel used businesses in the Los Angeles Fashion District to accept and launder $140,000 to return a US citizen who was being held hostage. Reportedly, the man was taken hostage after the US seized more than 100 kilograms of cocaine that he was supposed to distribute.

Five additional money laundering suspects are still being sought, according to U.S. Department of Justice spokesman, Thom Mrozek.

What is Money Laundering?

Money laundering is engaging in a transaction that involves proceeds from specified illegal activity in an attempt to either promote or conceal that activity. This charge often appears in conjunction with other allegations, usually in relation to drug crimes, fraud, or other cases where the accused person has obtained money or other property illegally.

We represent clients under investigation or facing money laundering charges involving:

  • Illegal wire transfers/wire fraud
  • Failure to report transactions over $10,000 and
  • Bank fraud

Money laundering is found in Section 1956 of Title 18 of the United States Code.  If convicted, money laundering carries a penalty of up to 20 years and a fine of not more than $500,000 or twice the value of the property in the transaction.  Penalties can also include criminal forfeiture (forfeiture of assets).

The most common defense to money laundering is lack of knowledge or intent. A skilled federal defense attorney such as the lawyers at the Strom Law Firm may be able to establish that you did not intend to promote unlawful activity or that the transaction was not designed to conceal the unlawful activity.

The Strom Law Firm Defends Against State and Federal Criminal Charges, Including South Carolina Money Laundering Charges

Our firm was founded by Pete Strom, the former US Attorney for the District of South Carolina. He, along with his team of attorneys, will zealously represent you in any state or federal court in South Carolina against criminal charges, including money laundering and wire fraud. Don’t miss out on your one opportunity to protect your rights and maintain your freedom. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm have over 30 years of experience collectively. We offer free, confidential consultations. Do not hesitate to contact us to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.

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