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Perfumier Laundered for Drug Cartel

MANHATTAN (CN) - A man who owns a chain of perfume stores on the Mexican border was sentenced to 19 1/2 years in federal prison for using his businesses to launder Mexican drug money.

Vikram Datta, 51, of Laredo, was convicted in September 2011 after a two-week trial.

Undercover DEA agents met with Datta in August 2010, and "Datta admitted, among other things, that he was receiving 'a lot of cash' from his customers on the border and that 'it's all Sinaloa money,' a reference to the Sinaloa Cartel, a major Mexican narcotics trafficking organization," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement. It added: "Datta also acknowledged that his business was 'just washing the whole money.'"

Prosecutors say Datta laundered more than $25 million for the drug cartel.

Drug cartels willingly take losses on money transactions to get records of putative business deals to establish where the drug money supposedly came from. Any sort of business can be used to launder money that way.

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