Clean, Clean, It’s Clean They Say

Dec 1, 2008

Laundering money isn’t about washing it in your pants pocket; it’s about taking dirty money from drug dealers, etc. and finding ways to funnel it legitimately until it gets “clean.” It’s illegal to say the least; however, everyone is entitled to a skilled defense according to U.S. law.

Money laundering has been with us since – well – almost since God walked on water. And the interesting thing is that it’s usually highly educated economists or other money savvy people who do the laundering for others. This happens because those who want it cleaned up know the right people to do it and are well-versed about the ins and outs of the world of finance.

Of course, the whole idea behind cleaning up money from illegal sources is to make it impossible for the law to trace. The business of laundering is complex, not by choice, but by necessity.

There are hundreds of ways to clean up money that the law is aware of, and just as many more that no one has heard of yet, but they will; for instance, the black market Columbian Peso Exchange.

The black market Columbian Peso Exchange is a popular method, and one the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) says is the largest money laundering scheme in the Western Hemisphere. This one came to light in the 1990’s. While complex, it is simple and effective.

The basis for this scheme is that Colombian businesspeople need U.S. dollars to import international wares. To avoid their government taxes on the money exchange from pesos to U.S. dollars (not to mention the tariff on imported goods), those in business hunt up black market peso brokers who charge them a fee (lower than the government) to do the deed without government intervention. That’s part one of a two step tango.

Part two sees a drug trafficker handing over dirty U.S. dollars to Colombian peso brokers. The drug dollars buy goods in the U.S. for Colombian importers. The goods are sold under the table for pesos that are paid back to the broker from the proceeds of the sale. The broker gives the trafficker the equivalent in pesos of the original money that was laundered, less a healthy commission.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and the DEA has its hands full. Other methods include smurfing, using offshore accounts, underground alternative banking, shell companies and investing in legitimate businesses.

If you’re charged with this type of offense, seek qualified legal counsel immediately. You should find an attorney that is a board certified criminal law specialist.

Daniel Wannamaker is a board certified criminal law specialist and has 24 years of criminal trial experience with proven results as a Dallas criminal defense lawyer practicing in Austin criminal defense and Houston Texas. To learn more, visit

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