Toy company busted for laundering drug cartel money

They were sellers of pastel-toned huggable plush toys with names like “Baby Frenz Forever” and “Jungle Pals.” At the same time, authorities say, they were receiving bricks of U.S. dollars wrapped in cellophane that were drug proceeds to be laundered into clean pesos for drug lords in Mexico and Colombia.

On Monday, authorities announced charges against the City of Industry-based Woody Toys and seven owners, employees and customers in what marks the second case in two years involving toy exporters allegedly acting as conduits for the drug trade.

Woody Toys was a key player in a sophisticated international financial scheme that converted more than $1 million into pesos each year, according to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations…

In all, the company is accused of laundering about $6 million in suspected drug profits since 2005, according to the indictment…

According to investigators, the company received suspected drug proceeds either through in-person deliveries — a hand-off at a McDonald’s parking lot and drop-offs at warehouses — or through anonymous bank deposits. Employees “structured” deposits into the company’s bank accounts, keeping sums under $10,000 to avoid reporting requirements…

The sums were then credited to accounts of toy dealers in Mexico or Colombia, who in turn made payments through the black market peso exchange to drug trafficking groups. The foreign toy dealers got a discounted exchange rate, the company received a boost in its business and drug traffickers got laundered proceeds that appear to be generated from a legitimate trade…

The money laundering charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, according to ICE.

Such a kind, thoughtful business culture. Toys for the kiddies. Millions for the owners. Clean pesos for the drug cartel.

Cross-border commerce at its inventive best.

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