LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The co-owner of a Los Angeles County toy company was sentenced Monday to eight months in prison for her role in a money laundering scheme that prosecutors say involved millions of dollars in Colombian and Mexican drug money.
Prosecutors said U.S. cash deposits were used in a complex arrangement that attempted to conceal illicit drug proceeds.
Dan "Daisy" Xin Li, 44, of Diamond Bar, was also sentenced in U.S. District Court Monday to six months of home detention. She and her husband — Jia "Gary" Hui Zhou, 44 — pleaded guilty last year to structuring money transactions at their toy wholesaler, Woody Toys, to avoid federal reporting requirements.
"This sentence should leave no question about the high price businesses will pay for complicity with narco traffickers," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles. "Unscrupulous companies that help cartels cover their financial tracks are contributing to the devastation wrought by the international drug trade."
The husband's sentencing was postponed until January.
Prosecutors said the scheme used U.S. cash deposits of $10,000 or less to avoid laws requiring large transactions to be reported. From 2005 through 2011, approximately $3 million was deposited into Woody Toys' bank accounts, according to court documents.
According to prosecutors, foreign toy retailers with Colombian and Mexican pesos would buy discounted U.S. dollars through currency brokers, which they used to purchase merchandise from Woody Toys. The dollars being "sold" were allegedly proceeds from illegal drug sales that had been deposited in the toy company's accounts or delivered to the business.
The pesos the currency broker received were then transmitted to the drug traffickers.
As part of an agreement with prosecutors, the couple forfeited $2 million in proceeds from the scheme.