“We cannot measure the problem of money laundering,” she said. “Quite frankly, the problem hasn’t gotten any better, only bigger.” Laundered money gets “washed” after it is introduced into the currency system via banks, money service systems, casinos and several other avenues, Salazar said. Profits from money laundering often end up financing legitimate businesses such as real estate firms, insurance companies and stock market investments, she said. Salazar also showed slides of thousands of dollars seized from cereal boxes, platform shoes, stereo speakers, bicycle tires and even inside condoms. “The hiding places are limited to the imagination of the crooks,” Salazar said. “They are getting pretty desperate.” Special Agent Martin Odenyo also advised business owners not to cut off all ties with a customer or business if they become suspicions. “Be non-committal, collect information and contact us so we can run them through our database,” he said. For more information, or to reserve a presentation for your business, call (213) 633-6249. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA FE SPRINGS – Local business owners can help stem the tide of money laundering and counterfeiting by reporting “red flag” signs to Homeland Security officials, an agent for the federal agency said Tuesday. “Know who your customers are,” U.S. Homeland Security Special Agent Ana Salazar told business owners at the Santa Fe Springs Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly security and safety briefing. “If you suspect someone or something doesn’t seem right – report it,” she said. Money laundering, the act of concealing the source of illegally gained currency, is a major concern for Homeland Security officials, expanding so quickly that federal agents are hard-pressed to keep tabs on it, Salazar said.