Coronavirus pandemic hampers money laundering operations in Los Angeles

  • In the past few weeks, Federal agents have seized three operations valued at more than $1 million each.
  • The excessive cash is believed to have been on-hand because the coronavirus pandemic has slowed money-laundering operations that drug trafficking organizations typically use to move profits.
  • Federal court cases reveal drug traffickers remit funds from the US to Mexico largely through fashion wholesalers based in the fashion district of downtown Los Angeles.
  • Steven Mygrant, a federal prosecutor in Oregon, explained how the operations typically work: “To accomplish this, broker pays pesos for the drug traffickers’ dollars. The traffickers deliver cash to an exporter in Los Angeles, who ships goods — commonly clothing, cosmetics, jewelry or sportswear — to a retailer in Mexico. The retailer sells the goods for pesos and pays the broker.”