TCOs “highly favour” TBML operations to manipulate financial institutions and international trade

Transnational Criminal Organisations (TCOs) continue to highly favour trade-based money laundering (TBML) operations to transport and launder illicit proceeds through the manipulation of international trade and financial institutions according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) recently published National Drug Threat Assessment 2020.

It says illicit funds are used to purchase real or fictitious trade goods, which are then shipped to another country where they are then sold, which allows the value derived from the original illicit activity in the US to move in and out of the country under the guise of legitimate trade transactions.

Mexico and Colombia

Mexican drug trafficking organisations (DTOs) are increasingly utilising domestic Asian money laundering organisations (MLOs) to facilitate drug money movement across a variety of methods, including TBML, according to the report.

Colombian TCOs generate and receive as much as US$10 billion annually through the sale of drugs in the US, Central America, and Mexico and the principal mechanisms by which these organisations launder their drug proceeds are the Black Market Peso Exchange and TBML.

Dedicated international money launderers

Colombian TCOs rely on international networks established by dedicated MLOs that profit from foreign exchange transactions and trade-based activity.

Although not as prominent as with the Mexican TCOs, the DEA report says there has been an increase in the presence of Asian MLOs in areas where Colombian TCOs operate.

There has also been evidence of the utilisation of cryptocurrencies by Colombian TCOs in order to transfer their proceeds internationally.

The DEA’s National Drug Threat Assessment 2020 can be found here.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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