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Local San Diego Gang Members Indicted on Money Laundering Charges
Federal officers on June 25th announced a year long investigation involving the Grape Street Crips leading to the indictments of 22 people. The majority of the people indicted were in custody on Wednesday with arrests made in the Mid-South and California. The members are allegedly tied to the California based Grape Street Crips gang supplied heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs to the Tennessee based Memphis Peda Roll Mafia. In addition, the indictments allege that seventeen of the defendants are members of, or associated with, the Memphis Peda Roll Mafia, a local street gang that distributes multiple types of illegal drugs in and around the Memphis area. Five people named in the indictments reside in California and are members or associates of the Grape Street Crips and Peda Role Mafia. During the investigation, law enforcement officials determined that members of the Peda Roll Mafia established a pipeline of illegal drugs throughout the Mid-South area. As members of the Grape Street Crips, they supplied heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and various other pharmaceutical drugs to the Peda Roll Mafia gang who then distributed the drugs throughout the Western District of Tennessee and the Mid-South area.
The alleged gang members obviously facing multiple drug charges. However, the federal indictment also alleges money laundering charges. We also here about money laundering on the news but what does money laundering really mean? We will look at money laundering in depth and see what it really means.
The relevant statute for money laundering is California Penal Code §186, which became effective more recently in October of 2011. It is longer more comprehensive statute that states,
Any person who conducts or attempts to conduct a transaction or more than one transaction within a seven-day period involving a monetary instrument or instruments of a total value exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), or a total value exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) within a 30-day period, through one or more financial institutions (1) with the specific intent to promote, manage, establish, carry on, or facilitate the promotion, management, establishment, or carrying on of any criminal activity, or (2) knowing that the monetary instrument represents the proceeds of, or is derived directly or indirectly from the proceeds of, criminal activity, is guilty of the crime of money laundering. The aggregation periods do not create an obligation for financial institutions to record, report, create, or implement tracking systems or otherwise monitor transactions involving monetary instruments in any time period.
Cal. Penal Code. § 186.10. The elements that are required to prove money laundering are as follows, (1) Conducting, or attempting to conduct a transaction through a financial institution. (2) The amount must be five thousand dollars or more in a seven-day span or twenty-five thousand in a thirty-day span. And (3) The defendant intended to promote criminal activity with the financial transaction, or knew the funds involved in the transaction came from criminal activity. The gang members stemming from California will be facing money laundering charges stemming from their alleged actions of drug trafficking. Thus, money laundering has three elements, which must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
The first applicable element is, conducting, or attempting to conduct a transaction through a financial institution. A financial institution essentially means a bank. Transaction entails, making a deposit, withdrawing money, initiating an electronic or wire transfer, exchanging money into foreign currency, or writing a check. Cal. Penal Code. § 186.10. Here, there are very limited facts because the indictment and arrest all occurred a couple of days ago. But, this element is not a very demanding one. It only requires a bank transaction. I f one of the alleged members put money in the bank to use it later on a debit card this would fully fulfill this first element. The people that are being prosecuted could possibly have a defense. If the defendants only dealt in cash and never used a bank or other financial institution this element would not be meant. Therefore, the people charged in this crime must have conducted or attempted to conduct a transaction through a financial institution in order to complete the first element of money laundering.
The second element amount must be five-thousand dollars or more in a seven-day span or twenty-five thousand in a thirty-day span. This applies to the certain minimum amount of money; the amount must be equal to, or greater than the requirement, also, it can be multiple transactions, it does not have to be one lump sum. Cal. Penal Code. § 186.10. Here, once again we are dealing with limited facts. However, the amount of funds to complete the second element of money laundering is not that high, just at five thousand dollars a week, or a total of twenty-five thousand dollars in a month span. If the activity that the Federal Investigators claim is true this requirement should easily be meant. In addition to look at this from a logical standpoint the government would not invest time and money to this extent if the amount of funds were fairly low, therefore the amount should probably meet this threshold. Thus, the second element of money laundering states that the amount in question must be five-thousand dollars or more in a seven-day span or twenty-five thousand in a thirty-day span.
The last element the prosecution would have to prove is that the defendants intended to promote criminal activity with the financial transaction, or knew the funds involved in the transaction came from criminal activity. The legal definition of money laundering has specific intent or knowledge as one of its key elements. This means that you are not guilty of money laundering if you unknowingly initiated a banking transaction that turned out to be connected with a crime. Cal. Penal Code. § 186.10. Here, if the alleged gang members complete the other two then this element will most likely be meant. The first option if this element would be to promote criminal activity. This could be buying supplies to make drugs or weapons to use as protection, and possibly even cars in which one would use to transport the product. The second option of the third element for money laundering is knowing that the funds stem from criminal activity. Once again, if these people are alleged gang members this is not a very difficult element to prove because they would be involved in criminal activity. Therefore, the third and final element of money laundering is that the defendants intended to promote criminal activity with the financial transaction, or knew the funds involved in the transaction came from criminal activity.
The penalty one faces for money laundering is more diverse sentence than most crimes, because it is what known as a “wobbler.” This means that the crime can be considered a misdemeanor or felony. If money laundering is charged as a misdemeanor, the potential penalties include; up to one year in county jail; and/or a fine of up to one thousand dollars. However, a felony sentence can result of four years in state prison, and a $250,000 fine or twice the money laundered but not exceeding $500,000. Cal. Penal Code. § 186.10. (c). In this case, it would most certainty be a felony charge of money laundering. This is because the article and indictment allege that there was a drug trade all over the south that would then be exported further to California. This seems as if it is a good size operation that these people were allegedly involved in, which lean toward the favor of a felony charge.
In conclusion, the three elements to California money laundering are, (1) Conducting, or attempting to conduct a transaction through a financial institution. (2) The amount must be five thousand dollars or more in a seven-day span or twenty-five thousand in a thirty-day span. And (3) The defendant intended to promote criminal activity with the financial transaction, or knew the funds involved in the transaction came from criminal activity. There are limited facts so it is hard to say if there is a good case against these people for money laundering charge, however, the elements are not too difficult to prove if one is involved in crime.
If you have any questions about the criminal process in San Diego feel free to contact San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer Vik Monder at 619-405-0063 or visit San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer