When cartels sell drugs in foreign countries, they also get paid in that currency – not very useful when you want the money in your home currency. This problem is one that is solved via money laundering; in the Western Hemisphere (and even the world), the Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE) is considered one of the largest operations when moving money across borders.
Colombia taxes currency exchanges and the importation of goods, and has restrictions on how much currency – and what currency – can be exchanged. This can often lead to difficulties in getting the profits from the drug sales back into Colombia. This is where peso brokers come in. Peso brokers get the drug money back into Colombia by approaching businessmen seeking to import goods from other companies. The brokers receive payments from these individuals in pesos and buy the foreign products with the currency earned off of drug sales in foreign countries. Such deals are appealing on both ends. The brokers can easily exchange currencies without having to go through the government, and because brokers offer more foreign currency for fewer pesos, the business owners are cutting the costs of the goods they are importing.This makes it more appealing for businessmen in Colombia to go through such brokers when doing business overseas, or people looking to purchase foreign currency for personal use. Some individuals in Colombia have knowingly entered into business with peso brokers, but others are unknowingly pulled into the business chasing the deal.
The money being handled and transported by brokers is usually no longer connected to the drug traffickers that collected it; once the money is in the hands of the brokers, it is their responsibility. Here in the United States, Los Angeles is considered to be the “epicenter” for money laundering. The goal of money laundering is to conceal the origins of the money, and in this case to make it more difficult to trace back to the cartels and/or brokers.Money from drug sales may be deposited into the bank accounts of businesses, legitimate in their own right or not, and then put towards legitimate assets.
The California Anti-Money Laundering Alliance (CAMLA) is an organization established by the California Department of Justice to investigate the money laundering epidemic in California. They are tasked with monitoring trafficking of all types, including drug, human, and gun trafficking. Through CAMLA, law enforcement agencies in Southern California have more resources to monitor activity across the United States’ border with Mexico. Some ways that law enforcement officials are tipped off to money laundering schemes include the following:
- Multiple deposits made on the same day, or on consecutive days;
- Receiving deposits from multiple locations;
- Not reporting all cash sales on taxes;
- Old-fashioned visual surveillance on an individual or a business.
These are just a few of the common actions law enforcement looks for, and there are always other methods used for money laundering that the authorities are unfamiliar with. With the increased resources available in the region, more and more individuals and businesses are being raided and charged with money laundering or related crimes.
If you have been accused of laundering money, contact Elden Law Group to schedule a free consultation. Our lawyers are experienced in money laundering and other drug related charges, and we will work hard to defend you against the charges being laid against you.