What Is The Federal Crime Of Money Laundering?
By: Dallas Federal Money Laundering Defense Lawyer John Helms
“Clean, Clear, and Confident” is a slogan for a brand of soap, but it is also a good metaphor for money laundering. If you watch true crime shows, you have probably heard detectives say that investigations should always “follow the money.” That is because law enforcement can often discovery who is committing a crime if they can show that the person is receiving money made from the crime.
“Dirty money” is money that was gained through crime. For example, money made from selling drugs is “dirty.” In order to avoid suspicion from law enforcement, people who get large amounts of dirty money need to be able to “clean” that money and make it look like it came from a legitimate business or activity. That is money laundering. It is “laundering” dirty money to make it look clean.
Here is an example. People who buy and sell illegal drugs almost always use cash, because, unlike checks or credit cards, cash is very hard to trace. But if a person is caught with a huge amount of cash with no explanation of where it came from or why the person has it, this can be strong evidence that the person is involved in a lot of crime. So, a person who gets a lot of cash income from drug sales will probably want to make it look like that cash is from legitimate activity.
A typical way to do this is to run the money through a service business that deals in lots of cash. A person involved in drug trafficking could give the cash to the business, which could then record it as income the business made, and the person could be paid for providing services to the business, like security. This makes it seem like all of the money the person is receiving is for legitimate activity—providing security service to the business.
Another example of money laundering is helping criminals avoid arousing the suspicion of law enforcement through…