Money LaunderingThere’s a saying in Spanish “no jugar con dinero de gringo,” which means “don’t mess with the white man’s money.” If you do, you’ll encounter the secret service right away!
This may sound odd, but the most difficult part of my job was handling the cash. I had a machine to count it, but $50,000 in cash is heavy, it reeks of cocaine, and it has to be laundered, which means: made to look legitimate.
Before the Money Laundering Control Act of 1986, this was more easily done. You could deposit a million dollars in a regular bank or withdraw large sums without raising any questions. In fact, banks and wire services were unwitting accomplices to the Colombia cartel.
Cash was also sent through airport luggage, where it was sometimes intercepted by workers. At Miami International, there was a whole crew who “profiled” luggage that was likely to hold illegal cash. They made a lot of money, as I’ll show you in the book.
To launder money from illegal activities, you just paid cash for something expensive: commercial or residential real state, sports cars, boats. In the old days, no one would say a damn thing. The person who helped you launder the money typically took fees ranging from 6% – 10%.
Now, the transactions are a bit more sophisticated. Let’s say you are a drug lord in the US. based out of Columbia andyou’re sitting on 2 million dollars. To launder it, you call your compadre back home and ask if he needs any heavy equipment
or trucks, somethings expensive. You then pay for it, ship it to Colombia, and arrange for a third party to get the funds from your compadre to reimburse you.
That’s just one example. Ask and I’ll tell you more!
Excerpted from the forthcoming memoir, The Baggage Handler.