Authorities are calling downtown LA the new Miami—as far as drug money laundering schemes go.

Investigators say Mexican drug cartels have increasingly been laundering money through Los Angeles, and a giant 1,000-agent raid Wednesday seems to support that conclusion—authorities apparently recouped close to $90 million from dozens of businesses and homes in the downtown LA area.

According to the AP, most of the money was in cash and was discovered hidden inside cardboard boxes and duffel bags.

The Los Angeles Times reports that at least one cartel also allegedly coordinated with a downtown maternity store on a particularly lurid kidnapping scheme:

The most harrowing allegations came in the Q.T. Fashion case investigated by the FBI. A drug distributor for the Sinaloa cartel was taken hostage in October 2012 after his 100-kilogram shipment of cocaine was seized by U.S. authorities. Held at a ranch in Culiacán, Sinaloa, he was beaten, shot, waterboarded and electro-shocked, the indictment said.

The man's family was told to deliver a $140,000 ransom to Q.T. Fashion, a maternity wholesale store, which used the money as payment for a clothing shipment to a Sinaloa retail store. The retail store then paid the cartel $140,000 in pesos for the shipment, effectively laundering the ransom.

"Los Angeles has become the epicenter of narco-dollar money laundering with couriers regularly bringing duffel bags and suitcases full of cash to many businesses," an assistant US attorney told the LA Times.

[image via AP]