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Even with the legal cannabis industry booming, illegal drugs are still a big business in California.  Sometimes people who profit from the trade in illegal drugs open legal businesses to make it appear that their money comes from the proceeds of a car wash, dry cleaning business, or restaurant, instead of from the sale of drugs.

They do this by falsifying the records of the legal business to make it appear that the company’s income is coming from the sale of its products or services; they can often do this for a long time without causing suspicion, especially if it is a business that deals mostly in cash transactions. 

Of course, money laundering operations often involve multiple parties; the more people and businesses are involved, the harder it is to trace the origin of the money.  If you are facing criminal charges for money laundering or conspiracy to commit money laundering, contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.

The Black Market Peso Exchange

Laundering money derived from the sale of illegal drugs can take many different forms.  One form of money laundering is known as a “Black Market Peso Exchange” scheme.  In this kind of money laundering operation, drug traffickers conceal the origin of their money by converting it to another national currency, under the pretext of selling merchandise to buyers in another country.  This type of money laundering operation is prevalent in Southern California since it is plausible that many businesses here would exchange goods across the US – Mexico border and exchange US dollars for Mexican pesos.

Oscar Sanchez, 52, of West Covina was involved in such a scheme.  According to a press release by the Department of Justice, Sanchez helped drug dealers launder drug money through a legal business he owned in Los Angeles. 

In 2018, a California-based drug dealer called Sanchez and said that he would be delivering “merchandise” which would ultimately go to a certain person in Mexico; both parties clearly understood that, by “merchandise,” they meant money.  Sanchez paid invoices to several businesses in Los Angeles after receiving the “merchandise.” 

Soon afterward, a co-conspirator in Mexico called Sanchez and asked if the “samples” had been received, and Sanchez confirmed that they were.  They said that the “samples” were “34 bras,” which meant $34,000.  Thus, using coded languages, the parties concealed that they were exchanging drug money.

By the time of his arrest, Sanchez had participated in the laundering of more than $900,000.  In October 2021, he was sentenced to three years in federal prison.

Contact the Manshoory Law Group About Charges Stemming from Money Laundering Schemes

A Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges after being accused of participating in a conspiracy to make the proceeds of illegal drug sales appear to be the revenues of legal businesses.  Your initial consultation is always free, so contact our attorneys at Manshoory Law Group in Los Angeles, California, or call (877)977-7750 to discuss your case.

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