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Financial Crimes
11/19/2009

400 bank accounts seized in ICE operation targeting Colombian narcotics money launderers

$3.2 million in alleged narcotics proceeds

NEW YORK - Operation Black Market Peso Sweep, an ongoing ICE-led initiative targeting narcotics money launderers, has resulted in the execution of search warrants authorizing seizure of approximately $3.2 million.

"The seizure of more than 400 bank accounts in this case is an outstanding example of how the federal government is hitting drug lords where it hurts them the most, in their bank accounts," said ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton. "The multi-agency El Dorado Task force has had a significant and successful track record, making more than 2,000 arrests and seizing nearly $600 million in illegal proceeds since its inception in 1992."

The ICE-led operation was spearheaded by the El Dorado Task Force which specializes in the investigation of money laundering violations. The Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE) is the primary method used by Colombian narcotics traffickers to launder their illicit funds. The BMPE is an illegal currency exchange which uses narcotic distribution proceeds in the United States to pay for goods that are then shipped to Colombia. The recipients in Colombia pay for those goods in Pesos, which are then forwarded to the narcotics traffickers. It allows narcotics traffickers to launder and transport their narcotics dollars through the U.S. financial system by utilizing domestic accounts held by businesses or individuals doing business in the U.S.

Previous seizure warrants executed as part of the same operation resulted in the seizure of an additional 35 bank accounts containing approximately $1.2 million, and another $1,350,000 in cash.