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Ridgewood bust yields laundered $500K: DA

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Police officers seized more than half a million dollars last week in a money-laundering bust in Ridgewood and Elmhurst, authorities said.

Detectives assigned to the Queens Narcotics Bureau made the first part of the bust at about 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 14, according to the office of Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. They stopped a car at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Queens Boulevard, a busy commercial strip, and confiscated $150,000 from the car, the DA's office said.

The driver of the car said he did not know where the money came from, so police seized it, pending a claim of ownership. Further investigation led the detectives to a trucking warehouse in Ridgewood, at an undisclosed address, where they seized another $370,000 in cash that no one has yet claimed, the DA's office said.

No charges have been filed in the bust, but an investigation is underway, said Sherry Hunter, a spokeswoman for the DA's office.

"The seizure of such a huge amount of cash from one source is an example of the vast amounts of money being laundered and transferred in various ways in the metropolitan area by the large drug syndicates," Brown said.

Last week's seizure follows a much bigger bust in Jackson Heights, where the same team of investigators found a record $4.57 million in an apartment at 37-56 75th St. in Jackson Heights on Jan. 25, the DA's office said. Money-laundering records were seized in that bust from a Marriott Courtyard Hotel near LaGuardia Airport.

"This laundered money came for the sale of drugs smuggled into this country and was on its way back to South America before we confiscated it," said Police Commissioner Howard Safir in a statement last Thursday. "Hopefully, this enforcement action will send a clear message to drug traffickers that the NYPD and our partners in the law enforcement community will aggressively pursue anyone trafficking, distributing and using drugs."

Detectives Stephen Scalza and John Clyne made the seizure under the supervisions of Sgt. Alan Hoehl and Lt. Thomas Manning of the Queens Narcotics Bureau.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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