American Banks 'High' On Drug Money: How a Whistleblower Blew the Lid Off Wachovia-Drug Cartel Money Laundering Scheme
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Treasury officials said the CDCs were used exclusively by money launderers to transfer or exchange the value of Mexican hard currency that was sent to bank accounts in the United States or other countries to conduct financial commerce.
The U.S. government further said that the CDCs did not operate in the same manner the way banks operated in the United States, nor did the CDCs provide or maintained checking accounts, savings accounts or any commercial banking services.
Alarmed over the CDC transactions, Woods reviewed previous wire transfers that CDC sent and he was shocked to learn that the techniques the CDC had used earlier duplicated the scheme. For instance, a retrack of CDC transactions revealed lack of sufficient information to identify the true identities of the individuals that sent the money from the CDC businesses in Mexico.
Realizing the wire transfers from the CDCs was most likely a money laundering operation, Martin Woods began an inquiry by filing "suspicious activity reports" (SARs) and sent them to the London authorities and he also sent duplicate SARs to Wachovia supervisors in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Following the SARs alert, Woods requested the Wachovia banking system to deny Mexico-based CDCs sequentially numbered traveler's cheques.
Satisified he'd done his job, Woods expected Wachovia to respond accordingly with an internal investigation into his discovery of the CDCs banking operations.
As an investigator, Martin Woods held the belief that it was his duty to prevent criminals from polluting Wachovia Bank with illegal proceeds and that the bank would back him up.
He was wrong.
Dirty work at the cross road awaited him. Wachovia's top-level officials became his worst enemy that culminated into a force of subterfuge to undermine his superior work and destroy his credibility.
According to court records, on June 16, 2007, Wachovia ifficials challenged Woods for filing the "suspicious activity reports" (SAR). They argued that the SARs' should have never been filed against Mexico-based CDCs' and that Woods had no legal clout to investigate a foreign case.
Adding injury to insult the bank officials said Woods had no 'right' to access sensitive documents held overseas from Britain, regardless if Wachovia maintained the documents.
Following confrontations with Wachovia staff, Woods received a letter from a manager calling him a failure to perform at acceptable standards.
Apparently the controversy surrounding the proceeds that CDC was sending into the bank finally took effect. A few months later Woods noticed something odd: the Casa Cambio Puebla, simultaneously stopped routing traveler's checks through Wachovia's London branch.
A gut instinct motivated the investigator to ask Wachovia's American-based banks if they seen a similar routing change involving CDC traveler's checks.
His request caused an uproar from Wachovia's Miami-based manager Carlos Perez. Perez managed the Latin American accounts owned by the CDC Puebla. Visibly upset, Perez angrily questioned Woods, demanding to know "why he had problems when there was no problems when the CDC sent traveler's checks to London."
Meanwhile Martin Woods was overwhelmed with stress and frustration. Each attempt he made to crack this monstrous case his superiors sabotaged the investigation. During a conference held in London with foreign and U.S. federal law enforcement agents, Woods informed the DEA and FBI of his suspicion about the amount of quesionable funds that the CDCs' were sending into Wachovia banking systems.
He further told the agents that he suspected the involvement of certain top-level officials in helping the CDCs' to launder drug profits into Wachovia banks.
U.S. federal authorities immediately started an investigation beginning with the Wachovia branch in Miami Florida. "A narcotic investigation always involve two things and that's drugs and money," said Mark R. Trouville, the Special Agent in charge of Miami's DEA field division.