[Ed. – Beware Californians decrying crime of any kind.]
California’s gross domestic product of $2 trillion, significant foreign trade activity and border with Mexico also makes the state a target for international money-laundering schemes. The report estimates that more than $30 billion is laundered through the state economy each year.
Some is filtered through legitimate businesses or by using virtual currencies such as bitcoin. But the report says backpacks and duffel bags stuffed with cash have been seized more frequently since Mexico began toughening its money-laundering laws in 2010.
Seizures of bulk cash increased 40 percent by 2011 in California, which now leads the nation in the number of currency seizures.
California should alter state law to make it easier for prosecutors to crack down on money laundering, the report says. Unlike federal law, state law currently requires prosecutors to prove that a suspect deliberately carried out a financial transaction in a way designed to hide the fact that the money came from or was used for a criminal activity.
The report also recommends that the Legislature change state law to let prosecutors temporarily freeze the assets of transnational criminal organizations and associated gangs before seeking an indictment. It says the state should also mimic federal law by increasing punishment for people convicted of supervising, managing or financing transnational criminal organizations.
It also calls for the state to devote more money to the state Department of Justice, which Harris leads. That would include $7.5 million to fund five new teams to target international criminals.