Trade-based money laundering is on the increase within the illicit drugs trade, the special agent in charge of the US’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit in Chicago, Gary Hartwig, has warned.
The warning followed news that thirty-one people in Chicago are facing federal money laundering charges for their roles in a conspiracy that allegedly laundered more than US$100 million in drug proceeds through apparent trading activities.
The defendants are allegedly connected with the Mexico-based Sinaloa cartel that is said to have purchased gold before reselling it to companies in Florida and California, and then transmitting the money from the US to Mexico.
Two of the defendants, Mexico-based money brokers Diego Pineda-Sanchez and Carlos Parra-Pedroza, allegedly used a network of individuals in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, and Los Angeles to launder drug proceeds through a gold-based scheme.
The defendants used drug proceeds to purchase scrap gold from local businesses and then send it to be refined in Florida and California.
The refineries would then transmit the cash value of the gold to Parra-Pedroza and others according to the complaint.
On the increase
Chicago anti-money laundering experts are now warning about an increase in trade-based money laundering techniques.
“Chicago is a hub for narcotics money laundering, with dirty money changing hands all too often in public parking lots throughout the city and suburbs,” said Hartwig.
“Criminals are turning to sophisticated trade-based schemes to launder their money and cover their tracks,” he added.
Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News