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The Meaning of 'Laundering'

Trial Magazine, December 2007

Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 97

6 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2007 Last revised: 29 Jun 2013

Craig Bradley

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: 2007


Can you violate federal money-laundering statutes simply by traveling toward Mexico from Texas with a cache of cash concealed under the floorboards of your car? This is the issue in the Fifth Circuit case of United States v. Cuellar in which the Supreme Court granted cert. in October. The majority of the en banc Court of Appeals held that this violated the provisions of 18 USC 1956 (a)(2)(B)(i) which prohibits transporting money in a manner designed at least in part, to conceal or disguise either the nature, a location, the source, the ownership, or the control of those proceeds. The dissent objected that this was not transporting money in order to conceal it, but concealing in order to transport, which doesn't violate the statute. I argue that while the dissent's point is well taken, in this case an expert witness testified that once the money is delivered in Mexico it will disappear into the cash economy there. This strikes me as sufficient to meet the government's burden of establishing transportation in order to conceal, regardless of the defendant's efforts to conceal the money en route.

Keywords: criminal law, federal criminal law, money laundering, Cuellar

Suggested Citation

Bradley, Craig, The Meaning of 'Laundering' (2007). Trial Magazine, December 2007; Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 97. Available at SSRN:

Craig Bradley (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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