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Santa Barbara Money Laundering: What You Need to Know

Posted by William Aron | Apr 06, 2022

Criminal organizations in Santa Barbara that earn large amounts of cash illegally cannot deposit their funds into legitimate financial institutions unless the money appears to come from legitimate sources. To make their “dirty” money appear “clean,” they use various techniques to “launder” their earnings and make their profits seem legitimate.

How Does Money Laundering Work in Santa Barbara, California?

Money laundering in Santa Barbara typically involves three steps:

  • Step One is to insert the “dirty money” into a legitimate financial institution.
  • Step Two is concealing the cash's source through multiple transactions and accounting tricks.
  • Step Three is to withdraw the now laundered (“clean”) money from the financial institution to use as they please.

In real life, laundering cash is not usually this simple. Criminals in Santa Barbara utilize various schemes to clean their cash. Sometimes this involves repeating the above steps, combining steps, or skipping them entirely.

Money Laundering Methods Used in Santa Barbara, California

One of the most common techniques used by California criminal organizations to launder money is through the use of a legitimate cash-based business used as a “front.” The criminal organization that owns the business artificially inflates the company's sales and funnels the illegal earnings into the company's bank account, making them appear legitimate.

Other money laundering methods used in Santa Barbara, California, include:

  • Breaking up cash into small deposits and dividing those deposits into many different accounts to avoid detection. This is also known as “smurfing” or “structuring.”
  • Investing in commodities that are easily moved, such as precious gems
  • Buying and selling high-value assets such as real estate, cars, or boats
  • Gambling and laundering money at casinos
  • Using “shell” companies that are inactive and essentially only exist on paper

Money launderers may also take advantage of online payment services, virtual gaming sites, or cryptocurrencies to clean their funds. Software is often used to anonymize their identity and location, making it more challenging for law enforcement to trace them.

Financial institutions are required to report cash deposits over $9,999 to the IRS.Many institutions will also red flag customers who have multiple accounts and make repeated deposits of less than $10,000 each.

Were You Arrested for Violating California Penal Code 186.10?

In Santa Barbara, a person commits the crime of money laundering when they take money acquired from criminal activity and funnel it through a lawful source to make the funds appear legitimate. Laundering money is prohibited in California under Penal Code 186.10, and a conviction could come with severe penalties.

Criminal defense attorneys may use several legal strategies to help clients fight a money laundering charge. Your lawyer could defend your case by showing that:

  • You did not act with a specific intent to participate in criminal activity
  • You only deposited a small amount of money
  • Law enforcement violated one or more of your constitutional rights

A violation of California Penal Code 186.10 can lead to a felony charge, punishable by up to four years in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000 or five times the value of the property transacted, whichever is greater.

Crimes That Are Often Related to Money Laundering in Santa Barbara

Money laundering often goes hand-in-hand with other serious crimes, such as:

  • Bribery
  • Corruption
  • Drug trafficking
  • Extortion
  • Fraud
  • Human trafficking
  • Illegal gambling
  • Prostitution
  • Robbery
  • Smuggling
  • Terrorism
  • Weapons trafficking

As the proceeds collected from the above activities are often legitimized by money laundering, California and federal authorities are incredibly determined to eliminate money laundering. The courts are typically tough on offenders of money laundering crimes, and convictions often come with harsh penalties.

Facing a Charge for Money Laundering? Contact a Santa Barbara Defense Attorney

Like any white-collar crime, money laundering is a serious charge that could put you behind bars, subject you to hefty fines, take away some of your civil rights, and ruin your reputation. Your best chance at avoiding these strict penalties is to partner with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

For many years, Aron Law Firm has crafted effective defense strategies for various criminal charges in Santa Barbara and throughout California. Call (805) 618-1768 or complete our online contact form to begin discussing your case with an Aron Law Firm money laundering attorney today. The sooner you contact our office, the sooner we can begin building a solid, intelligent strategy to defend your case.

About the Author

William Aron

Our firm is managed by William M. Aron. William M. Aron is a graduate from the Duke University School of Law and an active member of the California State Bar Association. While at Duke University, Mr. Aron also earned an M.A. in Psychology, authoring a paper examining the efficacy of polygraph e...

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