The Dallas Morning News
DEA busts lawyer in funds case
Feds say undercover agent caught him agreeing to launder what he thought was drug traffickers’ cash
A prominent Dallas lawyer and DART board member has been charged in federal court with laundering what he believed was drug money for narcotics traffickers, according to the U.S. attorney.
Ray Jackson, 51, of The Jackson Law Firm, was arrested Wednesday and charged with money laundering, officials said.
He made his initial appearance in federal court in Dallas on Friday morning and was released pending trial. If convicted, Jackson would face up to 20 years in prison for each transaction, authorities said.
He and his defense attorney could not be reached Friday for comment.
Jackson, a criminal defense lawyer, has served on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit board since 2017 as assistant secretary after being appointed to represent Dallas by the
City Council. He represented former council member Don
Hill in his 2009 federal public corruption trial. Hill was convicted.
Representatives from DART and the City Council could not be reached for comment.
“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,” acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said in a statement. “He explicitly instructed them on how to further violate the law and profit from the devastation of our nation’s opioid epidemic, lining his own pockets in the process. He will now have to face the consequences of his actions.”
Jackson came to the attention of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration during its lengthy investigation of a large opioid ring, authorities said. An undercover agent asked a
“high-level dealer” if he knew anyone who could launder about half a million dollars’ worth of drug proceeds, officials say, and the dealer offered in August to introduce the agent to Jackson.
‘He’s gonna clean it’
“He’s gonna clean it. He’s gonna wash it,” the dealer told the agent, officials allege. “I don’t know the ins and outs. … He’s the lawyer.”
The dealer took the undercover agent to Jackson’s law office on Pacific Avenue in Dallas two weeks later, authorities said. During the meeting, the agent told Jackson he needed to launder about “half a mil a month,” according to a federal complaint.
The DEA complaint described the following alleged exchange:
“It’s straight dope money,” the undercover agent said.
“I don’t care where the money comes from,” Jackson said.
The two negotiated a 4% fee plus a bonus for Jackson’s services regarding the drug money, prosecutors allege.
“Mr. 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,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.
‘Ray is the bomb’
Jackson said he could have everything ready in two to four weeks, and he agreed to a $100,000 “trial run” with the promise of more business, the DEA alleges.
“This dude has been leading us. We are successful because of him,” the dealer allegedly told the undercover agent after the meeting. “Ray is the bomb. … He’s a thug, he’s just got a law degree.”
The undercover agent in September returned to Jackson’s office to give him $100,000 in cash that he said had come from drug dealing, according to the DEA.
“I can get out at any point, right? Long as y’all got your money?” Jackson allegedly asked.
The undercover agent told Jackson he could leave the scheme when he was ready, authorities said. Jackson warned him to “speak in code” when trying to reach him and said he would not communicate anything important in a text, according to the DEA.
“You take care of me and I am gonna take care of you,” Jackson allegedly told the undercover agent.
The undercover agent returned to Jackson’s office in late November to give him an additional $300,000 in reported drug proceeds, the federal complaint says. Jackson asked if he’d taken steps to make sure the money didn’t smell like drugs, according to the DEA. The agent told Jackson he had.
A Jackson Law Firm bank account made multiple deposits, each less than $50,000, and Jackson kept his agreedupon percentage of the money as his fee, authorities said.
Eduardo A. Chavez, special agent in charge of the DEA in Dallas, said in a statement that global drug traffickers rely on money launderers to succeed in their criminal schemes.
“These illicit activities cannot exist without each other,” 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.”
Jackson received his law degree in 1996 from Texas Southern University, and he obtained his Texas law license the same year, according to state bar records.
He has received six disciplinary actions since 2009, including reprimands and suspensions, according to public records. In the most recent case, the State Bar of Texas issued him a 12-month probationary suspension that began Aug. 1 related to his dealings with a client in a criminal case, records show.