Eli5: How did large criminal groups count the millions of dollars they got from big deals?

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Like obviously large crime groups would do deals of drugs, weapons, and other illegal things, for millions of dollars. How did they make sure all the money was legit? Like did they just trust that the shady people they were dealing with would pay them properly? Or did these trades actually take up to hours to process properly. Cuz it just be a bunch of men running the bills through counting machines?

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7 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Of course this depends. Different groups have different amounts of trust against each other. It is hard to imagine someone doing big Mexican standoff style drug deals with millions of dollars involved. But even if this was the case you can take random samples and check it. This will at least make sure that most of the money and product is there which usually makes it a good deal. And short counting is bad for repeat business so if you want to do it you need to do it big.

But there are also big money counting rooms. It could take a few hours to count the money properly and if you are there all the time you could risk an ambush. But if you are not that afraid of an ambush and want to make sure the count is correct then you can ask to stay and inspect the entire counting operation.

Anonymous 0 Comments

When you are making loads of money in a criminal enterprise, you are not going to want to short your supplier as it could at the least stop your business, and at worst you get violent retaliation. And they were surely counting the money when they got back too so you would get caught.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you can’t rely on the law to enforce your contracts, cruelty becomes an effective investment to ensure your customers deal fairly, or at least to your benefit. Make sure everyone knows what happened to the last person who screwed you over. Large, million-dollar customers value reliability and consistency as much as you do as well.

Because of economics, most organizations run the same. Laws skew the balance so it is more economically favorable to invest more in tv ads instead of hits.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There was an interview with someone I recall many years ago who was active during the Cocaine Cowboys era.

Drug Dealing was done through layers. Every person in the layer depended on the system for future business going forward.

It sort of works like this. Lets say you are a local drug distributor. You have your sources of drugs, if you screw these people over, at the very least they will stop doing business with you. Your margin might actually be super small, but the volume would be high. They sell you $10,000 worth of drugs, you turn around and sell it for $12,000 and then you come back to them and buy another $10,000. You are only making $2000 per pop, but you are doing to be doing this regularly. You and the distributor have a good thing going. They likely are working with several people in a region like you.

You take the drugs, and you split it among your guys, who might be anywhere from 4 people to a dozen. For simplicity, lets say you are working with a dozen. They drop buy and each one gives you $1000 and picks up their drugs.

These guys usually not the final point of consumption. They then will usually have street guys, party guys, or other people who can move smaller quantities for them. That $1000 they bought from you, they will break it up and try to sell it for $1200-$1500 (or more).

Now your dozen guys, they have a good thing going, they have a stream of a product coming in, if they give you funny money, or don’t pay you, that comes to an end. You might have to take losses here and there. But you won’t pass those losses up to your supplier. Your supplier always gets paid.

Your supplier isn’t likely someone who is manufacturing or even smuggling the drugs. They might even be a step removed from the person who is doing this. They pay their people with the money they get from you, and from all the other dealers. That $10,000 worth of drugs they sell you every week, they might only pay $8000-$9000 for it. But the money they get form their people is good, so the money they pay their people is good. They will be buying from a small number of people and selling to a larger number of people. But it might have been part of say $50,000 that they got that week and they split it up to 5 other people.

They work with someone who is getting them much more than that, and their goal is to reliably sell it as fast as possible and have money for the next round. As the money gets kicked up the chain, its assumed to be good. You would rather take a loss than give your dealer bad money. According to the guy I remember in the interview, at the higher levels, where they are getting bricks of $100 bills. They usually just weighed them where 1 bill weighed 1 gram. 1kg of 100s was $100,000.

King Pin/Producer -> Transporter/Smuggeler -> Local Kingpin -> bigger distributors -> smaller distributors -> local dealers -> final customers.

This chain might be a bit longer or shorter. The money gets kicked up to the left, the dealers don’t want to be short changed by the customers, and they don’t want to short change their smaller distributors. So as the money moves to the left, its usually organized. Drug dealers are generally not looking for customers, ideally they would rather sell to other drug dealers. At the high level all these people have to work together to keep everything running smoothly and the money pouring in.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Sure, it could just be a bunch of people and a bunch of counting machines. 

Also, “give us the right amount of money or else we will murder your entire family” generally prevents people from trying to rip them off to begin with. 

Anonymous 0 Comments

If movies are accurate large rooms of mostly naked women running money through counting machines. While a guy stands over them with a machine gun making sure they don’t steal any money.

Anonymous 0 Comments

More often than not, large quantities of bills will be counted by weight. If the weight seems suspicious, the money will be brought to a facility where they are counted more meticulously after the trade.

Since these crime syndicates usually deal in stacks of a certain denomination ($10,000 to $100,000), the entire quantity of bills in the transaction won’t be counted. Individual stacks can be randomly pulled from the lot, counted, and statistics will be calculated to see if the total quantity is close enough to the total value. With transactions in the millions, a missing $1,000 is pretty meaningless.