A Dallas lawyer has been charged with laundering what is believed to be proceeds of narcotics trafficking, acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said.
Rayshun Jackson, the 51-year-old attorney at the helm of The Jackson Law Firm, was arrested Wednesday and charged through a criminal complaint with money laundering, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Jackson made his initial appearance in federal court Friday morning.
Shah said Jackson worked with drug dealers to "further violate the law" and that he profited from it.
“Attorneys swear an oath to conduct themselves with integrity and uphold the rule of law. Mr. Jackson instead chose to ignore his oath by allegedly laundering money for purported narcotics dealers,” Shah said.
Jackson also currently serves on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) board as assistant secretary, a spokesperson said.
Jackson surfaced during the DEA’s years-long investigation of a large-scale opioid distribution ring, according to the complaint. A high-level dealer offered to introduce an undercover agent to someone who could launder drug proceeds, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Money laundering is a key factor in helping move illegal drugs, Eduardo Chavez said in a release. He is the special agent in charge of the DEA in Dallas.
“Global drug trafficking depends on criminal money launderers to take ill-gained profits and weave a fictitious web of businesses and bank accounts to appear legitimate," Chavez said. “As alleged, Mr. Jackson used his law degree not in the furtherance of justice, but to line his own pockets, a true travesty of the law."
When asked if he knew anyone capable of laundering around half a million dollars of “drug money,” the U.S. Attorney's Office said the dealer responded he knew “business people” who “do this for a fee.”
“He’s gonna clean it. He’s gonna wash it,” the dealer told the undercover agent in August 2020. “I don’t know the ins and outs. He’s the lawyer.”
Two weeks later, the dealer accompanied the undercover agent and a confidential source to Jackson’s Dallas office, where the dealer vouched for the undercover agent’s trustworthiness, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Still posing as a drug trafficker, the undercover agent told Jackson that he would need to clean around “half a mil a month.”
“It’s straight dope money,” the undercover agent said.
“I don’t care where the money comes from,” the attorney responded.
The pair allegedly negotiated a 4% fee, plus bonus, for the defendant to launder the money, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Officials said Jackson suggested setting up a “shell corporation,” as well as a cash business like a coin laundry or car wash that would make it difficult for authorities to track proceeds.
Jackson told the agent he could get everything up and running in two to four weeks, according to officials. The pair allegedly agreed on a $100,000 trial run, with more to come, and the undercover agent departed the office with the dealer and confidential source.
“This dude has been leading us. We are successful because of him,” the dealer told the undercover officer after they left. “Ray is the bomb. He’s a thug, he’s just got a law degree.”
In late September, the U.S. Attorney's Office said the undercover agent again traveled to Jackson’s office to deliver $100,000 in cash made from drug sales.
Before the undercover turned over the money, Jackson tried to clarify his long-term commitment to the drug trafficking organization, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
“I can get out at any point, right? Long as ya’ll got your money?” the attorney allegedly asked.
“I know that we can come across as threatening, but we are not savages,” the undercover agent responded. “So when you are ready to be done, then we’re gonna be done.”
The undercover agent then handed Jackson a black backpack containing the cash, according to the release. Jackson allegedly took the bag and looked inside. Jackson warned the undercover agent and confidential sources to speak in code when they contacted him. He also told them he would not put anything substantive in a text, officials said.
“You take care of me and I am gonna take care of you,” Jackson allegedly told the undercover agent before he left.
The following month, officials said a Jackson Law Firm bank account made three deposits totaling $95,000 into a DEA undercover bank account. Jackson allegedly kept $5,000, the 4% commission plus a 1% bonus.
In late November, federal officials said, the undercover agent returned to Jackson’s office to deliver $300,000 in drug sale cash.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said the undercover agent expressed concern about Jackson allowing anyone access to his bank accounts since the amount of money had increased. Jackson told the undercover he had “full control and only control.”
Jackson allegedly began to transfer the money to the black backpack he’d kept from the prior transaction, then paused to ask if the undercover had taken steps to ensure the money did not smell like narcotics, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. The agent said he did.
Officials said Jackson continued to stuff cash into the backpack, struggling to zip it closed. When the undercover agent offered to have the confidential source escort Mr. Jackson to his vehicle, officials said the attorney laughed and said, “Nobody knows, I take stuff down all the time.”
During the following three months, a Jackson Law Firm bank account made eleven more deposits totaling $285,000 into undercover DEA bank accounts, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Each deposit was less than $50,000, just as Jackson had promised. Jackson once again allegedly kept 5%, or $15,000.
If convicted, Jackson faces up to 20 years in federal prison per laundered transaction.
The DEA's Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation with the assistance of IRS – Criminal Investigations and the Dallas Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Courtney Coker, the Northern District of Texas’ Deputy Criminal Chief, is prosecuting the case along with Assistant U.S. Attorneys Juanita Fielden and Nashonme Johnson.