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Toys, drugs and money: guilty pleas in LA toy co. laundering scheme

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Three executives from a Los Angeles-area toy company have pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges in a laundering scheme that prosecutors say involved millions of dollars in Colombian and Mexican drug money. 

The owners and bookkeeper of the City of Industry-based wholesaler Woody Toys — exporting products like "Farm Frenz" and "Sea Cuddles" — entered pleas to various charges stemming from the scheme.

In a plea deal, owners agreed to forfeit millions in profits derived from the plot. Eight defendants have so far been charged in the deal.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations officials, the company was "a key player in a sophisticated international financial scheme that converted more than $1 million into pesos each year," the L.A. Times reported in April.

Authorities said they were receiving bricks of U.S. dollars wrapped in cellophane that were drug proceeds to be laundered into clean pesos for drug lords in Mexico and Colombia.

An attorney for the owners told the Times last spring that the two were Chinese immigrants, and honest people who "made an 'unknowing mistake.'" He added, "This is a case of their lack of understanding of how they were supposed to file paperwork."