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Back when I used to carry a mil or two cash (admittedly in the seventies), I pretty easily convinced myself that this was an actual large quantity of money. I mean, on a one person, one cash pile basis, why not? Carry it from the counting place to the carrying vehicle you're going to get some exercise, even if it's only from the upstairs of a townhome to the garage.

Today, however, garden variety money laundering cases involve mind boggeling sums of money. In fact, can these stories really even register on a real world basis with the vast majority of readers? While I'm clearly not there as a beat up old fart in the modern world, I still have some memories that might be insightful.

As far as law enforcement goes, someone, or more likely large numbers of "players" on the other side were less than sincere in approaching their sworn duties in the WOD strictly by the book. On the surface each and all of them were aghast at the threat to the national interest. But, then, let's say that you're undercover and snorting lines and drinking Chivas and Dom in the back end of a chartered Lear, while headed to some tropical paradise for a meet up with your "White punks on dope" connects, and some third world big shots. Pull the trigger on the whole case, or "exercise patience"?

I won't claim to have a finger on the pulse of "cash flow" in the modern world. But back in the day, every idiot, every sucker, every everyone knew that everything centered on Miami. I mean, all of the spare cash in the U.S. headed there, and all of it disappeared off of the radar screen from there. This whole thing was clearly not law enforcement rocket science.

So my memory now is of the day in 1979 that I pulled up to the front door of the bank whose address was on the scarp of paper that I was handed after we had filled the trunk with every container we had easily at hand that would hold cash. And, even with those stakes, believe it or not, I didn't have detailed instructions, and really, felt no undue level of apprehension. I was certainly not the routine courier on this route, and can no longer recall why I was subbing, but, hey, no biggie. I had clearly not been told to take this much money to some place where it was not really, really welcome.

Still, I was a newbbie at this part, so I just caught the nearest parking place, went in, and asked for ... whoever it was. And, as I expected, there were no questions asked after that. We took the elevator up, to show me the way, and to make sure that we wouldn't be interrupting unfinished business (and I was a bit surprised to see that, apparently, no one cleaned up the rubber bands, stray money wrappers, etc. in between "customers"). And, yes, the requirement of reporting cash transactions of more that $10,000 was in place. (Funny how that limit has not been increased since then?) And, man, talk about industrial grade counting machines. Burn through a suitcase full of hundreds as fast as you could load it.

This was not a hotel, but all of the suitcases, boxes and bags that I carted in didn't raise any eyebrow that I noticed. And ditto for bank, after bank, after bank in the Miami financial district of the time. I mean, who knew why large luxury sedans making major drops were many times more prevalent than armored cars?

And I'm in no position to swear that, these days, armored cars have not replaced luxury sedans for these "sensitive transactions".

But I know that tons and tons of drugs are still being converted into tons and tons and cash, and the folks involved in the wrong side of the International war on Drugs are still largely pretending that the reason they don't follow the money, just shut everything down, and take their careers to the next level is because they find the consequences of "victory" far too distasteful to ever seriously pursue. "Win the war", and then what?

True story.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:43:52 PM PST

  •  Thank you for your service (4+ / 0-)

    The good guys will win the drug war in due time. And by that I'm not referring to those who make their living putting people in cages.

  •  War is business (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, akze29, trueblueliberal

    the drug war isn't anything else.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:54:31 PM PST

  •  Wall St. does it now, (4+ / 0-)

    a lot of the major banks have been caught doing it. As you said, the money involved now is astronomical. It would take semi-trucks and trailers to haul it in cash. On a positive note, it is starting to look, to me anyway, that Mexico's War on Drugs may be ending. My guess is that with the PRI newly ascendent, arrangements have been made. The winners of said Drug War appear to be the PRI and El Chapo. I could be wrong, but it looks like that to me.

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:56:55 PM PST

  •  Just curious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Was the money you made worth the time that you did?

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 07:58:45 PM PST

  •  The little banks get theirs and the big banks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akze29, trueblueliberal

    really get theirs from drug money laundering.  That's the big banks game, oil, drugs and war.  They won't give it up as seen with the federal laws, i.e., the banks control the fed govt., but at the state level we're at least make some headway with Mary Jane.  Handing it over to the state and only the state still doesn't set right with me here in Wash St where everyone is saying it's legal.  It's legal to an extent, but lots of problem areas.

    "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Nov 29, 2012 at 08:54:15 PM PST

  •  And I watched (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akze29, trueblueliberal

    the huge rich companies that came from nowhere and built the big skyscrapers downtown or opened up construction companies with all-new equipment, and their backers were incorporated in the Netherland Antilles, (just off the Columbian Coast), or in the Caymans.

    What possible honest motive, I always wondered, did US companies have to bank, and recruit investors, on fly-speck islands along the narcotics trail between South and North America?

    Then there was the time, after a failed union organizing campaign at a skateboard manufacturing company, when I tried to snitch to the DEA on the anti-union owner.

    Workers had witnessed the strikebreaking owner possessing several ounces of cocaine (several thousand dollars worth).  And I dug up his divorce papers where his ex-wife said she wanted significant spousal support because he was a big coke trafficker who'd invested his millions in the skateboard factory and a related magazine.

    The DEA laughed at me, wouldn't even offer to let me sit down, saying if no one had seen at least 10 kilos (a quarter-million dollars worth) they wouldn't even take the information.

    •  Have you seen the film Cocaine Cowboys? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akze29, trueblueliberal

      If this topic interests you, there's a fascinating documentary about Miami is in the crazy drug days. At one point they show a news report that shows a chart the cash reserves of the banks of the miami area and the national average.

      Two former traffickers are interviewed.  One is a half-a-wiseguy from New York and the other is Florida redneck.  They  were strictly transportation and they made a certain amount per kilo delivered, but never "sold" any drugs themselves.

      They mention one small Florida police department who was quite willing to help them load and unload and store their merchandise, a couple of deputes in uniform just loaded it into the back of a cruiser and delivered it where ever they asked.  Later every single member of that police department was arrested on drug charges down to the secretaries.

      •  The DEA Agent in Charge of the task force for (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Operation Grouper went down shortly after we did. The temptations were too great, the money too good, and, the best part, he got less time than any one he busted (there's this bullshit about "putting a cop in prison is a death sentence, so needs to be avoided").

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:09:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  When I was being hauled around post-bust, heavily (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      shackeled, etc., the U.S. Marshalls pulling transport duty always knew how to manuver things so that overtime kicked in long before they got off of the clock. Just shaceling me up at the old jail, and check in at the new one was good for an easy three or four hours And then there was the per diem (as they would talk about in the front seat) which was a set amount so they could low ball their meals and room and pocket the rest.

      Not bad money, I guess, considering the work conditions were pretty favorable.

      And then just multiply that out.

      There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

      by oldpotsmuggler on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 10:05:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  bingo. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    "Win the war", and then what?
    they'd have to find something else to do, someone else to put in all those private prison beds, something else to keep the para-military DEA occupied. can't have that. plus, all those billions of tax dollars flowing in would dry up, as the spigot was turned off. all those jobs lost, etc. the "WOD" quickly became a cottage industry, sucking up scarce, allocable resources on both sides of the line, and that line isn't particularly bright, hasn't been for a long, long time (see: Connection, French).

    back in the day (also mid 70's) i thought $1,000's was a lot to be carting around (hey, cut me a break, i was a naive college student!), along with 30 gallon trashbags full of, well, organic material. man, do i feel inadequate!

  •  I carried around a few thousand in the 70's. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But I got to keep it. (Fungus farmer).

    Last time I was in Oakland, you could see guys with big backpacks heading nervously into Harborside, then coming out with empty packs and big smiles on their faces.

    Maybe the war is winding down, what do you think? (Hello from Colorado).

    GOP: Bankers, billionaires, suckers, and dupes.

    by gzodik on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 06:40:07 AM PST

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