MIAMI (AP) - From mobile phones in Miami to T-shirts in Los Angeles, drug organizations are finding ways to convert illicit U.S. dollars into pesos for cartels in Mexico and South America.
Investigators say cartels such as the Sinaloa and Los Zetas are turning to trade-based money laundering schemes to get around strict federal reporting requirements for cash deposits over $10,000 and sophisticated money laundering monitoring systems. The schemes involve purchase of legitimate U.S. goods which are sold in Latin America for pesos collected by the cartels.
Earlier this year, the Homeland Security and Treasury departments issued orders requiring about 700 mostly electronics businesses in the Miami area to report cash transactions over $3,000 rather than $10,000. That directive followed a similar "geographic targeting order" last fall in the Los Angeles Fashion District.
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