L.A. Fashion District Company Owners Get a Federal Sentence for Money LaunderingJavonni Brustow
Al Seib/Los Angeles Times
For at least the last 4 years Los Angeles’ Fashion District has been under the watchful eye of the U.S. Treasury in a plan to crack down on money laundering. Fashion execs Morad and Hersel Neman behind Pacific Eurotex Corp. were just sentenced to federal prison for hiding nearly $3.2 million in drug trafficking money in a money laundering scheme. Their take down came from The Treasury Department walking around passing out sealed letters to over 2,000 stores back in 2014 to let the neighborhood know they were investigating money laundering by Mexican drug cartels. It’s been known as one of the largest acts taken to stop their financial flow in the U.S.
“When we go in and do something of this magnitude in an industry where the cartels are so heavily invested, it stops their business. The question is for how long,” said Jere Miles, deputy special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles after the Treasury letters were hand delivered in 2014.
Over 1,000 agents descended upon the Fashion District in four years ago with search and seizure warrants had just been done on storefronts, warehouses and homes much to the objection of neighborhood leaders but in the end it appears they knew what they were doing. Cash transactions over $3,000 had to be filed with detailed reports, less than 1/3 the previous threshold.
The raids that took place in 2014 netted some $90 million collected of which $70 million was cash. The net income Pacifica made from 2012 to 2014 was $3.2 million, 40% of which came from drug traffickers. Moran Neman has been sentenced to two years of federal prison and his brother Hersel Neman received an 18 month sentence and they both have 6 months of home confinement. Morad is responsible for $3.2 million to the government, jointly with their company and his brother Hersel about $370,000.
The unfortunate part about all of this is that in 2013, Department of Homeland Security agents warned Hersel and his accountant Alma Villalobos about the money laundering scheme that the cartels were doing and that all transactions over $10,000 had to be reported. They failed to do so and that was their downfall. Undercover agents who pretended as though they were bringing them narcotics proceeds to the total of $369,935 involving tens of thousands of cash.