A man I once had to escort as a cop to the Zimbabwean police by train was a convicted drug dealer and facing further charges for similar drug-related charges in Zimbabwe. It was a three-day journey to the South-African and Zimbabwean border at Beitbridge and he got talking about his life of crime.
He, said, maybe it was the drugs or maybe it was his earlier job as a “legit” landscaper that started it all. But he was collecting around $20,000 per day, all in hard cash that started it all, yet in spite of the easy landscaping money and the drug money, he, wasn’t finally arrested for any financial issues, or even a drug-bust, he was caught for a broken tail-light cover with a whole truckload of heroin!
(His Big mistake.)
Now, $20,000/day sounds like a hell of a lot, but this guy was small-time. He was mostly a one-man show serving a moderately sized college town and he had a reliable connection in Harare who kept the drugs flowing. Which means he was clearing a good sum of cold hard cash, every single day of is life. Setting aside the obvious law-breaking, what’s the problem with that?
Well. When you start amassing 6–7 figures in cash regularly, you start running out of things to do with cash. It accumulates. You can’t get rid of it fast enough.
It’s VERY hard to spend very large amounts of cash. You can only buy so many houses, yachts, gold-chains and cars, and other petty cash things. Most dealers just buy more drugs. And then repeat the cycle. And many others, use drugs too. This reduces their hoard—even their own dealers love receiving cash: they do nothing to try to stop it.
But supposing you don’t end up in that cycle of drug dependence. You’ve now got a giant pile of cash. Now you have to store it somewhere.
Storing it under the mattress is going to make it very bumpy. Cash in a safe can get stolen. Half the reason drug dealers shoot each other is that they know the other has a large stash of cash-on-hand.
Also, they know very well that money isn’t “working” for them. Most of them don’t deal because they like dealing, they do it because it’s the only way they know how to get paid well.
A real fact is, that many would prefer to put that money into the financial system, like buying houses, cars, financing businesses, whatever. It’s just practically impossible to do those transactions in cash and impossible without a government agent being notified.
Frequent large cash transactions raise questions about where the cash is coming from. Why?
Finally, If you deposit above a relatively few thousand dollars, banks are obligated to snitch to the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), by filing a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR).
We had reached the border and I was putting his leg-chains back on for protocol reasons during a prisoner escort, I asked him: “Not once did you say anything about your own “stash” for when you come out of prison, do you have any money to start a new life?” He answered saying,”you are right, I never did say anything about that…
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