The filing of a civil forfeiture complaint in the American West, involving the use of Mexican fast food restaurants in Wyoming and Colorado in a money laundering scheme reminds is how cash-oriented businesses are often used by money launderers to clean narcotics proceeds. Restaurant operators simply fold drug profits into each night's receipts, adding to the cash normally received by patrons, and after paying taxes upon the increased "profits," have quickly and efficiently cleaned the proceeds of crime. Back in the old "Miami Vice" era in South Florida a restaurant whose profits were augmented in this manner was in the top ten food service profit centers in the United States, but its drug smuggling owners were soon being closely examined, to ascertain whether the business was a money laundering operation.
More recently, Mexican restaurants in Toronto have been exposed by a whistle blower as depositories of Catel narcotics profits earned in Canada, though local law enforcement has apparently not succeeded in closing up their operation.
Only if sharp investigators can prove that the wholesale purchase of food and ingredients comes nowhere close to the retail food sales claimed can a case for money laundering be sufficiently proven in a court of law, through forensic accounting. Generally, a participant who is in trouble with the law, and who is seeking to reduce his prison time, is the one whose assistance proves up the case. Any cash-oriented business is susceptible to receiving dirty money, and cleaning it for its owners, though in recent years reporting requirements have substantially reduced the types of businesses where this can occur.