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?