The Laundry Man by Kenneth Rijock ( Penguin/Random House UK)

Saturday, November 20, 2021

FOR ONCE, THE PUNISHMENT FITS THE CRIME: FIFTEEN YEARS FOR DRUG MONEY LAUNDERING

Xizhi Li


We have repeatedly rendered our position on this blog, regarding what we believe to be insufficient Federal prison sentences for money laundering. A District Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia appears to have gotten it right: the Court pronounced a fifteen (15) years sentence for Money laundering Conspiracy, with a $10m Forfeiture Consent Order. Such a sentence is certain to be noticed.

XIZHI LI, reported to be a US citizen originally from China, who formerly resided in Mexico, led a $30m transnational money laundering enterprise that served narcotics trafficking organizations, including the Sinaloa Cartel, and its leader Joaquin "El Chapo"  Guzman. The only way that there will be sufficient deterrence is to impose such sentences that will cause individuals to think twice before engaging in the laundering of large amounts of criminal proceeds. Anything less will not serve to frighten off potential money launderers. Offenders who receive short sentences for money laundering will, after a few years elapse after their release, forget the minor consequences of their prior case, and re-engage with the criminal community, unless their earlier experience is harsh, blunt, and painful.

Remember, the twenty years maximum penalty for money laundering is rarely, if ever, imposed; in my opinion, this is one of the reasons that transnational money laundering has proliferated; the participants do not fear the possible outcome. They are mesmerized by the profits, and lured in to a life of crime with an unhappy ending. We should support long sentences, which may scare more possible laundrymen into staying on the straight and narrow.


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