Federal and state or local prosecutors alike have a number of tools for pursuing New York City residents whom they suspect are involved in the drug trade.
When it proves to be difficult to catch a high-level dealer in the act, police and prosecutors instead might rely on allegations of financial crimes to justify arresting and bringing to trial a person the authorities suspect is involved in the drug trade.
For example, the federal government prosecutes money laundering under the laws of the United States.
What constitutes money laundering is pretty broad. Basically, the funds involved have to come from illegal activity, including, for example, selling illegal drugs.
Usually, illegal transactions like drug sales are done in cash. Prosecutors will have to then prove that the accused person did an additional financial transaction with a plan to avoid taxes, continue their illegal activity or cover up the illegal behavior in some respect.
An example of the sort of behavior that might lead to a money laundering charge would include a small business knowingly accepting cash payments from drug sales and converting them to seemingly more legitimate funds, like checks or money orders.
Anyone involved in the financial transaction could be on the receiving end of a money laundering charge.
Someone accused of money laundering will want to evaluate their legal options
Money laundering charges can be just as serious as actual drug trafficking allegations. Under federal law, the penalty for money laundering is up to 20 years in prison and the possibility of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Federal prosecutors also have a lot of flexibility when it comes to charging multiple counts of money laundering for what may have been one action.
A New Yorker who has been accused of money laundering should evaluate their legal options carefully and explore possible defenses.