US authorities have charged eight individuals for their alleged roles in money laundering and money transmitting conspiracies involving tens of millions of dollars in drug trafficking proceeds, as well as a trade-based scheme that used stolen and fraudulent gift cards to purchase and ship thousands of Apple products internationally. Seven defendants have been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and unlicensed money transmitting; one has been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and possession with intent to distribute marijuana.
Two of the defendants allegedly used their restaurant and electronics and restaurant supply businesses to operate a large-scale money laundering and money transmitting operation that involved the laundering of drug proceeds and proceeds from stolen and fraudulent gift cards. In a wiretap investigation, the authorities identified one of the other defendants as a marijuana trafficker who laundered his drug proceeds through the businesses of the above two launderers. Allegedly, the trafficker regularly delivered bulk drug proceeds over $30,000 to the launderers, who then laundered the money through electronic transfers. The investigators also allegedly seized over $250,000 of suspected marijuana proceeds being transported by another defendant to a front business.
The launderers allegedly worked with their co-conspirators, including three family members, to launder drug proceeds worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for Chinese Renminbi, charging a fee for their services. Through off-the-books transactions, the defendants evaded US reporting requirements and China’s capital flight restrictions, while concealing the true nature and source of the illicit funds.
Some of the defendants also co-conspired to operate a sophisticated trade-based money laundering scheme in which they used stolen/fraudulent gift cards to purchase thousands of Apple products. They then shipped these products internationally in exchange for tens of millions of dollars in wire transfers.
Source: US Department of Justice