So, that tunnel appears to have been a pricey, gold-plated, Second-Avenue-Subway of escape tunnels.
Which begs an interesting question. How did Shorty pay for it? He couldn’t just write a personal check, for obvious reasons. So what did he do? Note I am not asking how he launders the proceeds. I am asking how he keeps control of the money after he launders it.
We know how Michael Corleone did it. He stayed personally untouchable, so his legal control of the enterprises into which he channeled illicit gains was not questioned. He could (and did) write personal checks. If a fictional reference does not satisfy, then this was also the strategy employed by Al Capone and Meyer Lansky. My father briefly worked for the latter in the late 1940s, in a completely legal racket to extort the clients of high-class Miami prostitutes. Those two guys, they could (and did) write personal checks. The challenge was in laundering the money, not controlling it once cleaned.
Shorty, then, would have a few options.
- False identities. This would be an entirely fake persona controlled only by El Chapo. Hard to maintain, relatively high risk of detection, but cheap and secure.
- Trusted compatriots. Emma Coronel, for example, is not openly wanted. But she would not be a good choice, since she is linked to Shorty. (For those of you who do not recognize the name, she’s Shorty’s wife.) But there is little doubt that our man has other trusted people willing to act as his financial sock puppets. That said, loyalty can be bought; I have trouble believing that the Sinaloa Federation is run solely on the basis of trust. Too much risk of betrayal.
- Interlocking monitors. Here you have multiple sockpuppets. Each one controls a chunk of your wealth, but each one is also monitored by potential assassins who are paid from a different source. This will involve high overhead costs, especially the smaller the chunks into which the overall kitty is divided. But it is likely the best way to go. Except it also opens up oversight problems: where do you keep the centralized double-entry accounts to monitor the operation? We know the Zetas did that (I have seen such accounts but have no permission to use them) and that such accounts were one of the ways in which the authorities finally brought down their leadership.
In addition, there is another dilemma: keep laundered wealth in cash or invest in other assets? One popular, hard-to-detect and easy-to-control asset would be loan-sharking. People will owe you money on pain of death and dismemberment; the killers and dismemberers will depend on the continuing health of your operation for their salaries. The problem here is twofold: you will need to invest in a very large portfolio of sharked loans if you want to put any sizeable sum into such schemes ... and the resulting wealth will not be particularly liquid. (I guess you could sell your debtors’ organs in extremis, but that would seem to incur heavy losses. Not a great solution to the liquidity problem.)
It is an interesting problem. At least from a distance.