Monday, December 12, 2011


The announcement this week, that a major money laundering indictment has been issued in California, with a large number of laundrymen charged, begs the question : should law enforcement agencies ever facilitate the movement of huge amounts of drug profits just for the chance that the actions might result in arrests of high-profile defendants ? I join the arguments made by a US Congressman, who is asking whether aiding and abetting organized crime in laundering money justifies arrests. Was it worth it ?

I can tell you, the sad truth is this;  so-called controlled obey laundering by undercover agents of law enforcement, solely to "follow the money" never results in a 100% subsequent seizure of all that money. Some of it ends up concealed and invested, and out of the reach of seizure and forfeiture actions. Other portions simply are disbursed as payment for services rendered, or the cost of goods sold, or profits.

As we have ruefully seen in the abortive "Fast & Furious" operation conducted by Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), even the best intentions often result in missed opportunities, and the unintentional facilitation of crime, generally due to poor planning, and a good understanding of Murphy's Law.

The $13m reportedly laundered in this case obviously transited a number of US banks, and it appears that some of those millions will not be recovered. That money will buy a lot of drugs, smuggling vessels and aircraft, weapons, bribe a number of corrupt foreign officials, and end up as investments abroad that merely increase the wealth and power of the narcotraffickers.

If you are going to follow the money, by all means, don't lose track of any of it.

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