This is pretty bad, as police departments really, really don't need any more reasons for people to be wary of the motives and of the legitimacy of someone who says they're a cop.
And the problem can be particularly bad for some groups: among, say, immigrants who come from a country where people generally don't have a great relationship with law enforcement, being bullied by a guy pretending to be a cop isn't a great start on changing that. To make things worse, those groups are often vulnerable, so fake cops might be targeting them specifically. So, all in all, morons masquerading as cops are helping kill what little trust people still have in the police.
The Lockdown Is Screwing Over Money Launderers
Since the lockdown shut down retail stores and reduced traffic to a trickle, it's been almost impossible for money launderers to do their thing. As anyone who's watched Ozark knows, laundering money basically consists of hiding some dirty cash among regular transactions, and when no transactions are happening, you start running into serious issues. As a result, the DEA is seizing way more money than it used to -- about 10 times more, in some cases -- and cartels are losing millions.
In NYC and the Los Angeles area, for example, seizures of money from launderers and cartels are way up this year. In LA, agents seized $10 million between March 1 and May 8 -- for comparison, in 2019, that figure was $4.5 million. And in NYC, the amount of cash they've seized is up 180% since 2019. The cartels have a pretty intricate laundering strategy, which the lockdown made impossible -- so cartels' money just kept piling up. The result? The DEA's cash hauls used to be in the $100,000 range. Now, they've been known to go beyond $1 million.
Alexander Schimmeck/UnsplashLike this, but crammed in a duffle bag and on its way to Guadalajara.
Buying goods in stores is the first step of the cartels' scheme in NYC. Those goods then get shipped to China, where Chinese criminal gangs receive them and then, typically, wire money to the cartels in Mexico. Why the run-around? Chinese bank wires are hard to track, and wiring money from the U.S. would be like holding up a copper stick during a lightning storm. All of that means that America's lockdown had the unexpected but welcome side effect of screwing over the Chinese mafia.
And money laundering isn't on its knees just in big urban centers, either -- DEA agents in Michigan and Ohio have similar stories. The amounts of money they're seizing aren't massive, but the place they're finding them is: lots and lots of money is being grabbed at airports. Apparently, launderers are trying to move hundreds of thousands of dollars by plane, which they've never tried before. Why? Well, in these states, cartels move money by literally driving it across the border, and that's much more dangerous with no traffic as you're a lot more likely to get spotted and pulled over if you're pretty much the only one on the road. Even if you avoid that, this doesn't factor in the possibility of getting into an accident with all the idiots street racing.
Top image: Bordovski Yauheni/Shutterstock