AML on the Frontline: What Triggers Law Enforcement Interest

The Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) Houston Chapter held its first lunch and learn event of 2019, AML on the Frontline: What Triggers Law Enforcement Interest. The expert speaker was Violet M. Szeleczky, a retired agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who is currently the senior financial investigator of this administration. There was a great turnout of 65 attendees, including the speaker’s husband who attended to give his support.

The chapter learned about several case studies of successful DEA investigations helped by suspicious activity reports (SARs), such as a SAR regarding a unique red dye color that can only be obtained in China and that was being used for a drug pill that is appealing to teenagers. There was a successful DEA investigation regarding pill press machines. The pill press machines are used to make fake pills that can be laced with deadly fentanyl that can result in death by drug overdose. Following the addresses of key suspects for deliveries of pill press machines and the relationships of family members was very important in solving the case. Therefore, the correct reporting of all known addresses to the SAR subjects in the SAR form is beneficial to law enforcement (LE). The attendees also learned that it is very important to write SARs with keywords in the SAR narrative that may be helpful to the DEA, as the DEA SAR investigator does searches on keywords of interest to DEA agents such as drugs, pills, pharmacies and narcotics. A well-written SAR can save the lives of many people as they help LE arrest the drug traffickers and stop the illegal sale and shipment of lethal drugs.1 The chapter also learned about the danger and toxicity of opioids.

The ACAMS Houston Chapter board distributed ACAMS pins, pens, notebooks and tumblers to all attendees, much to their delight. The event was held at the beautiful Amegy Bank high-rise building in the Galleria area of Houston with state-of-the-art conference room technology.

The ACAMS Houston Chapter board would like to thank the event attendees for their continued support of the ACAMS Houston Chapter throughout the years as the chapter has been in Houston since 2012. The ACAMS Houston Chapter board looks forward to continued success in the great city of Houston.

Joann Alicea, CFCI, CHTI, ACAMS Houston Chapter communications director

  1. Sara Ganim, “Pill presses for counterfeit drugs seized in record numbers,” CNN, March 17, 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/03/17/health/pill-presses-counterfeit-fentanyl/index.html

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