Organized Crime

How one drug cartel banked its cash in New York City

In the photos, Alejandra Salgado and her brother Francisco look like ordinary tourists strolling the streets of midtown Manhattan. He carries a shopping bag. She wears a white dress, a leather tote slung over one shoulder.

But their outings were hardly innocent.

Over two hours, federal agents snapped pictures as the pair visited seven banks, stopping at each one to make cash deposits of just under $10,000 — all from piles of drug money stashed in their bags.

Prosecutors say the flurry of deposits was one of the many schemes hatched by Mexican crime cartels trying to bring billions of dollars in drug proceeds back from the United States without attracting scrutiny.

The brother and sister pleaded guilty in the scheme and went to prison late last month.