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Operation Greenback was launched in 1979 and was the first multi-agency money laundering task force ever assembled. Launched as a response to officials in the United States Treasury Department noting a sharp increase in cash inflow to Florida (and later Los Angeles) banks, corresponding to a cocaine trade boom in the 1970s. The Department "connected [the capital influx] to the large-scale laundering of drug receipts" The money trail led back to large banking institutions and as a result, George H. W. Bush "wasn't really too interested in financial prosecution," the chief prosecutor in Operation Greenback recalled.
Several federal authorities were involved including the Treasury Department, Customs, the IRS and the Department of Justice (Narcotics and Dangeous Drug Section).
The investigation was prompted by Federal Reserve statistics showing that massive amounts of cash were coming out of other areas of the United States and being banked in south Florida.
A small Panamanian bank pleaded guilty on money laundering charges after a sting operation. However criminal charges against its parent bank were dropped, one of Latin America's large financial players.
- Chomsky, Noam citing a Department brief Noam Deterring Democracy, p116="http://www.zmag.org/Chomsky/dd/dd-c04-s03.html#FN20"/