When the fellow standing next to you in line at the gas station pulls a thick wad of cash out of his greasy jeans, it’s polite to avert your eyes here in Humboldt.  But the Feds aren’t averting their eyes any longer from what is rumored to be the thick wads of cash that enter our banks. According to the Press Democrat, “Federal regulators are instructing North Coast banks to scrutinize their customers’ financial transactions for signs of money laundering and drug deals, the result of the region’s reputation for marijuana production….the North Coast had been designated a high-risk area for money laundering.”  The article goes on to quote Mike Leonard a former Sheriff’s Detective who now works for a bank. ““We are both a federally designated high-intensity drug area, and a high-intensity financial crime area,” Leonard said. “There is more drug cash circulating in our economy.”

According to rumors, the local banks have very different cash patterns than the rest of the state.  Most banks, to meet the needs of their customers, must get cash from the Federal Reserve Banks. They need the bills to put in ATM’s and hand out over the counter.  Humboldt and Mendocino banks actually have a surplus of cash that they turn in to the Federal system.  One local banker I talked to wanted to confirm this fact.  She contacted a representative of the FDIC and asked for a break down by county of how much cash is transacted through banks.  In return, she was told they were not able to provide this information.  But the rumors persist and the article in the Press Democrat seems to confirm this.

So, when you have a bunch of money from the sale of oh, say…parsley at the local farmers’ market, how do you avoid drawing federal attention with this increased scrutiny that Humboldt and Mendocino are getting?  Under normal conditions, any cash transaction of over $10,000 requires a report to the IRS.  So, theoretically one could deposit $9,999 every day without drawing attention. But, here’s a hint, that’s a little ballsy.  Might want to keep it under that…waaaay under that.

According to the Press Democrat, “regulators have pushed North Coast banks to install advanced equipment that allows bankers to closely monitor the transactions of all customers and report any suspicious activity to regulators and law enforcement agencies.”  I’ve talked to two people in the banking business that say that they are required to report any transaction that looks unusual especially those involving cash.  So, should you actually have a market for your…parsley, be very careful how you deposit the proceeds or you might have to explain why your parsley farm is so lucrative.


Humboldt Herald is talking about this.

Highboldtage is talking about this.