L.A. is 'epicenter' of [Mexican] cartel money laundering, U.S. official says

Article subtitle: 
Federal agents seize an estimated $65 million ... part of a widespread attempt by Mexican drug cartels to launder narcotics profits
Article author: 
Victoria Kim and Joe Mozingo
Article publisher: 
The Los Angeles Times
Article date: 
10 September 2014
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

Federal agents launched a series of raids in the downtown Los Angeles fashion district on Wednesday and seized an estimated $65 million in cash and other assets they allege were part of a widespread attempt by Mexican drug cartels to launder narcotics profits.

Nine people were arrested in raids targeting 70 locations, many of them businesses in the fashion district ...
Agents with the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement infiltrated several peso brokerages operating in Los Angeles, officials said ...

Operations that launder drug money through legitimate trade have soared since Mexico restricted the use of American dollars in 2010, forcing the cartels to convert their dollars to pesos ...

In the most harrowing scheme detailed in the three indictments released Wednesday the Sinaloa cartel allegedly directed ransom money to be delivered to Q.T. Fashion Inc., a maternity apparel wholesaler on East 12th Street.

The ransom involved a drug distributor who had fallen into debt to the cartel when U.S. agents intercepted a shipment of 100 kilograms of cocaine he was responsible for. He was allegedly kidnapped and tortured at a ranch in Sinaloa until he could pay off the debt. His family and friends delivered at least $140,000 in bulk cash to the Los Angeles business ...