US Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on April 21 they were targeting 700 businesses in the Miami, FL area for “enhanced scrutiny” in order to detect activity by Latin American criminal organizations related to trade-based money laundering.
ICE indicated said the focus would be on electronics exporters, including those in the cellphone business, in five ZIP codes near Miami International Airport, according to an Associated Press report. Normally individuals or businesses who engage in cash transactions must report deposits that total $10,000 or more. However, these targeted businesses must report transactions over the reduced threshold of $3,000.
Trade-based money laundering occurs when goods are purchased in one country with dirty money, then sold in another country, often in a different currency. The value of the items bought and sold are usually either far above or below actual market value.
John Tobon, assistant special agent in charge of ICE homeland security investigations in Miami, told the AP that not all of these businesses knew that dirty money was passing through their coffers. Some of them; however, were deliberately created as front companies by Latin American criminal organizations, under the guise that doing business in high volumes of cash is a necessity when doing business in South America.
According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Miami transaction reporting order will remain in effect from April 28 until October 25, although businesses must retain records related to the order for five years after its final date.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.