Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel had been using Miami as a key piece in its money laundering operation. Through a complex process of currency exchanges, the Sinaloa Cartel was able to funnel millions of dollars to pay Colombian drug lords from the Cali Cartel for tons of cocaine.
The complex money laundering network was revealed on Thursday when the Miami-Dade County District Attorney’s office released details of the case that led to the indictment of 22 alleged players in the conspiracy and announced the seizure of more than $1 million during the investigation. Most of the players have been arrested and are expected to go to trial in Florida.
Under the name Operation Neymar, after a popular soccer player, authorities learned that the alleged cartel accomplices were able to launder as much as $1 million per month, the Miami Herald reported.
Mexican cartel members would purchase the cocaine on credit from their Colombian counterparts and then once they had sold it they would use the complex money laundering network to launder the funds. The moneys would go through various intermediaries where U.S dollars were used to purchase Colombian Pesos at a profit and then the money’s would be used to purchase electronics for Colombian companies who also made a profit through the black market currency exchange.
Before the operation was unveiled on Thursday, the attention placed on Miami by federal and state authorities had sparked controversy with Miami-Dade County Officials who worried about the negative image. According to the weekly publication Miami New Times Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman complained about authorities focusing their efforts on her county. Heyman then had her colleagues pass a resolution expressing their “grave concern” about how the county’s image would be affected by federal authorities focusing on large cash transactions in the region primarily in real state.