2C:21-23 – Findings, Declarations
1. The Legislature hereby finds and declares to be the public policy of this State, the following:
a. By enactment of the “Criminal Justice Act of 1970,” P.L.1970, c.74 (C.52:17B-97 et seq.), the legislature recognized that the existence of organized crime and organized crime type activities present a serious threat to the political, social and economic institutions of this State.
b. By enactment of P.L.1981, c.167 (C.2C:41-1 et al.), the Legislature recognized the need to impose strict civil and criminal sanctions upon those whose activity is inimical to the general health, welfare and prosperity of this State, including, but not limited to, those who drain money from the economy by illegal conduct and then undertake the operation of otherwise legitimate businesses with the proceeds of illegal conduct.
c. By enactment of the “Comprehensive Drug Reform Act of 1987,” P.L.1987, c.106 (C.2C:35-1 et seq.), the Legislature recognized the need to punish the more culpable drug offenders with strict, consistently imposed criminal sanctions. The Legislature intended a greater culpability for those who profit from the illegal trafficking of drugs and expressed an intent that such individuals be dealt with swiftly and sternly.
d. Despite the impressive efforts and gains of our law enforcement agencies, individuals still profit financially from illegal organized criminal activities and illegal trafficking of drugs, and they continue to pose a serious and pervasive threat to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of this State while, at the same time, converting their illegally obtained profits into “legitimate” funds with the assistance of other individuals.
e. The increased trafficking in drugs and other organized criminal activities have strengthened the money laundering industry which takes illegally acquired income and makes that money appear to be legitimate. In order to safeguard the public interest and stop the conversion of ill-gotten criminal profits, effective criminal and civil sanctions are needed to deter and punish those who are converting the illegal profits, those who are providing a method of hiding the true source of the funds, and those who facilitate such activities. It is in the public interest to make such conduct subject to strict criminal and civil penalties because of a need to deter individuals and business entities from assisting in the “legitimizing” of proceeds of illegal activity. To allow individuals or business entities to avoid responsibility for their criminal assistance in money laundering is clearly inimical to the public good.