Judicial workers conduct mock trial to bone up on laundering

The Poder Judicial is conducting a mock money laundering trial through Thursday to train its employees on how to handle such cases. The U. N. Office on Drugs and Crime is cooperating.

The Poder Judicial said that in the last 10 years, there have been 1,136 money laundering complaints. In 2010 the Poder Judicial said that there were 72 cases investigated.

Some 35 judges, defense lawyers and prosecutors are taking part in the training. The sessions are in the Radisson Europa Hotel in north San José.

The Poder Judicial said that the United Nations agency was called in because there are different methods used to launder money in different countries.

In Costa Rica the typical crime is reported with the confiscation of drugs. If someone is carrying drugs and cash, investigators assume that the case is related to drug sales.

Sometimes larger quantities of cash are found in false walls or
other hidden parts of tractor trailers that are coming south.
Officials in El Salvador have documented the continual flow of young men carrying about $9,000 each trip as they fly to Caracas, Venezuela, or some other South American airport. These trips are legal, and the money does not have to be declared if it is less than the equivalent of $10,000.

As police gain more experience, drug smugglers become more creative. The owners of a stuffed toy manufacturing company in California have been convicted of money laundering $80 million for drug gangs. They did so by exporting toys which were then cashed in at the destination.

Frequently a commodity transaction is a disguised money laundering. Instead of shipping cash south, drug dealers can purchase a boat load of rice or beans in the United States and ship it south without too many concerns. Some downtown San José business operators say they have been approached by individuals who offered them the chance to launder money through false sales and refunds.

The bulk of the laundered money comes from the drug trade, according to the United Nations.

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