MIAMI, FL (October 22, 2019)- The miamiherald.com writes that four flight attendants working for American Airlines are facing money laundering charges after three of the suspects were caught carrying large sums of cash at the Miami International Airport. The three then informed police of a fourth flight attendant who was also involved in the scheme. None of the suspects declared the cash they were carrying when they were caught by the Customs and Border Protection agents.
The flight attendants are all from Santiago, Chile. In total, the suspects had $22,671 on them at the time of the arrest. According to police reports, the suspects all received one percent of the cash they smuggled as their pay for the job, meaning, they were putting themselves at risk to make between $63.71 and $90 each. At the low end, the pay for illegally transporting the money would be less than a minimum wage worker would earn in an eight-hour shift in Florida.
Police say that the suspects flew into Miami International Airport from Chile and that in a routine customs check, one of the flight attendants claimed to be carrying just $100, but officers found $9,000 in cash on him. The find led to more stops and searches of other flight attendants, ultimately revealing that two of the other individuals had thousands in cash on them as well.
The fourth attendant was not carrying cash, but according to the other three, was the individual directing them. Police say the attendants were meant to take the money to a known individual in the United States. Reports do not include information regarding what type of organization was directing the illegal transport of money through MIA or what crimes the individuals are accused of trying to cover up through their money laundering activities.
Police charged all four with unauthorized money transmitting between $300 and $20,000 and with money laundering.
The penalty for money laundering is a sentence of up to five years in prison.
American Airlines states that it is cooperating with the investigation.
Money Laundering Laws in Florida
Money laundering is considered a white-collar crime. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), white-collar crimes are those that generally do not involve violence, but are forms of financial fraud, including securities, health care, or mortgage fraud, public corruption and money laundering. These crimes are often carried out by professionals and government officials.
Money laundering is a crime that involves taking illegally gained money and carrying out a series of complicated transactions in order to disguise the origins of the currency to make it appear as though it was legally gained.
White-collar crimes are often complicated to defend because they involve a variety of state and federal laws that may have been violated by the actions of the defendant. Depending on the jurisdiction, the penalties and sentences a person can face for financial crimes vary greatly.