We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Most of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Arizona AG finds a novel way to steal money from Lations

by Dennis Wagner Saturday, Oct. 14, 2006 at 6:31 AM

Racist Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard finds a novel way to steal money from Latinos and raise millions for the State of Arizona. If your a Latino and have money which you can't proved you earned legally the state will steal the money from you.

State battles money laundering by human smugglers

Human smugglers, forever trying to conceal the money in their multimillion-dollar operations, have created a convoluted new system to collect their fees for bringing undocumented immigrants across the border into Arizona.

Rather than having the money wired directly to them, the coyotes now have the cash sent to border cities in northern Mexico and brought to them.

Smugglers adopted the system, known as triangulation, after state investigators began monitoring wire transactions at Western Unions in Arizona, the state Attorney General's Office says.

The state's years-long investigation of wire transactions has led to the seizure of huge sums of laundered money and provided data used to attack criminal organizations. It also has led to a court battle with Western Union, which dominates the business of financial wire transfers.

Attorney General Terry Goddard's office says the company does not report suspicious activity, as it is required to do. The company says it is being given a black eye unfairly by zealous authorities trying to crack down on illegal immigration.

Metropolitan Phoenix is considered the hub for human-smuggling operations. An estimated 3,000 illegal immigrants enter the state daily. Known as pollos (chickens), they are guided across the border, driven to the Valley and held in drophouses until coyote fees are paid.

The money, about $1,600 per border crosser, is usually sent via wire by friends or relatives who already live in the United States. In court papers, state Department of Public Safety investigator Daniel Kelly estimates the annual smuggling revenues in Arizona at $1.7 billion.

Goddard said state agents have intercepted more than 15,000 suspected coyote wire transfers into the state in the past few years, seizing upward of $17 million.

"We have successfully disrupted at least that part of the money exchange," Goddard said. "They are now morphing into other ways of doing it."

The state Financial Crimes Task Force released records this year documenting the flow of cash into Arizona. Western Union agents in states with the highest illegal-immigrant populations were sending 36 times as much money into Arizona as they were receiving.

In 2003, for example, wires to Arizona from six key Mexican states totaled $113 million. Wires from Arizona to those states amounted to $3 million. "Western Union has been unable to provide a legitimate commercial explanation for the Arizona phenomenon," according to documents the state has filed in court.

In an e-mail, Sherry Johnson, director of media relations for the Western Union Co., said Arizona's allegations are a "grossly unfair and inaccurate representation" of the company and its customers.

"We believe we have a best-in-class compliance program and work with both law enforcement and regulators around the world on a daily basis to ensure that Western Union meets or exceeds its compliance obligations," she said.

Frozen funds

Several years ago, task force investigators began obtaining warrants to freeze suspicious wire transfers. Recipients cannot get their money unless they demonstrate to police that it is legitimate. Unclaimed funds are forfeited under racketeering statutes and used for law enforcement.

Goddard said wire transactions are screened to avoid interfering with legitimate commerce. However, some advocacy groups for Hispanics and immigrants claim benign transfers are getting snagged.

Juan Salgado, executive director at Chicago-based Instituto Del Progresso Latino, said he is concerned that Western Union customers are being profiled based on their last names. "Once you've become a target," he said, "it's very difficult to get your money back."

Joshua Hoyt, executive director with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugees Rights, said Goddard is using a "drive-by machine-gun approach" instead of targeting known criminals.

"There are all kinds of problems with the current procedure, and all kinds of innocent people have had their money taken and not been able to get it back," Hoyt said. "The attorney general set up a program that is hurting people."

Goddard acknowledged that millions of Mexican immigrants in the United States send money south of the border to help impoverished family members. However, he said those remittances are easily distinguished from smuggling fees.

The Attorney General's Office said that more than four-fifths of the seizures go unchallenged and that not one person has recovered funds by going to court.

Money trail

With wire-transfers as an entry point, the task force, using undercover operatives and wiretaps, investigated numerous smuggling rings. Scores of coyotes have been imprisoned, along with corrupt business associates. The government also seized Western Union stores, auto dealerships and drophouses.

The crackdown forced smugglers to devise more-complex tactics. Money-laundering specialists started using false IDs and dividing payments into several transactions to avoid detection. One example: A woman in Nogales used 63 spellings of her name in dealings with a Western Union agent.

The Attorney General's Office countered with more-detailed computer analyses to identify criminals. "It's very much a cat-and-mouse quest," Goddard said. "The money is the key to this whole thing. If you don't have the money, you aren't going to have the coyotes."

Last year, according to Kelly's affidavit, Western Union wires to Phoenix suddenly plummeted 90 percent, even though Border Patrol statistics indicated no decline in illegal immigration. Suspecting that smugglers had developed a new system to avoid detection, the Attorney General's Office issued a subpoena for Western Union wires sent to Sonora.

Records from March and April 2005 showed more than $28 million sent from the United States, most of it to select Western Union outlets in border towns such as Agua Prieta, Nogales and Altar, "secondary hubs for smuggling organizations."

Kelly's affidavit says the triangulation method works like this:

After a pollo is taken to a Valley drophouse, family members are no longer instructed to send the ransom directly to coyotes in Phoenix. Instead, funds are wired to Sonora, where confederates pick up the cash. A phone call is made to Phoenix, clearing the pollo for release.

Early this year, the Attorney General's Office demanded more Western Union records involving cash sent to Sonora. In two months, there were 13,549 wires. Much of the money originated from places like Illinois, New York, Georgia and Florida, "corridor states" for illegal immigration. One payee in Caborca received more than $500,000 in 10 weeks. Another in Altar, the staging area for border crossings, took in $68,000. The data show Western Union wires to Sonora increased 25 percent in 12 months.

Big profits

Kelly's affidavit says that someone who sends $10,500 via Western Union pays a $470 fee, compared with a bank processing charge of about $35 for the same transaction. Twenty percent of the fee is split by agents who send and receive the funds, while Western Union retains the rest.

Noting that banks require far more identification, Kelly concludes: "Trafficking organizations in the past five years caused billions of dollars to be sent through Western Union to receivers in Arizona because it was convenient, rapid and relatively safe."

A sting operation conducted in 2001-02 serves as an illustration: Undercover agents laundered $350,000 at three Valley wire-transfer outlets. The affidavit says workers at each store took bribes in return for accepting false IDs, filing fraudulent records and helping supposed coyotes avoid financial reporting requirements. At times, the corrupt payoffs totaled $10,000 per day. When the operation ended, four Western Union agents admitted guilt, and the company terminated eight high-volume franchises.

Company lawyers cooperated with Arizona investigators for nearly five years in a bid to prevent criminal transactions. They also launched a special training program to combat criminal wires in Arizona and recently banned wires of more than $450 bound for the state.

The money-laundering probe became public at a delicate time for Western Union, which last month broke away from First Data Corp. to become a separate company, first listed on the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 2. Stock analysts began asking questions about the company and the role of smuggling transactions in its revenue stream.


Legal battle


When the attorney general sought more data on Sonora business in April, Western Union balked. In court papers, the company argued that Arizona officials have overstepped their authority and are interfering with private business based on "rank speculation" and "salacious but baseless conclusions." Western Union contends that the state is fishing for crimes and that the company is obliged to protect innocent customers from government intrusion and seizures.

Goddard said his office focused on Western Union only because it is by far the nation's biggest wire transfer company. MoneyGram, the next-largest operator, does only a fraction of the business and has not challenged warrants from the Attorney General's Office.

Kelly's affidavit suggests that some of the money laundering resulted from company failures to report suspicious transactions, as required by law.

Although Arizona investigators began sharing their investigative findings, Kelly wrote, "Western Union's corporate compliance section has for at least the past three years inadequately reported."

In court, Western Union asked that Kelly's affidavit be stricken from the record or ignored because it is "irrelevant, misleading or inaccurate . . . unfounded, contradictory and inflammatory."

The legal dispute is being heard in Maricopa County Superior Court. This month, the company won a temporary order blocking the state's effort to freeze and seize suspected money transfers. A hearing on that issue is scheduled for Monday.
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 4 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Attorney General Terry Goddard sued for stealing wire transfer money Dennis Wagner Friday, Oct. 20, 2006 at 6:25 AM

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

test O06 10:01AM

test O06 9:59AM

test O06 9:59AM

100 Ways GOP Have Stolen Elections Since 1876 O06 12:03AM

Proximospective de l'univocité réifiée O05 6:27AM

“Kava-no!!!” O04 6:42PM

Trump & Palestine vs. Genesis, Rashi & The Land of Israel O03 6:29PM

The Criminality of the Elites O03 11:35AM

Business de l'inhumanitaire O03 7:51AM

Marriage Rape/Date Rape Highest Rapes O02 2:59PM

Women I Know Get Raped - Too Many Times To Count! O02 2:55PM

Women In USA Have Stockholm Syndrom O02 2:50PM

Shooting Drill's Are Political Actual Shootings O02 2:47PM

Dr. Ford's Father Works With CIA O02 2:44PM

Weaponizing Frequencies O02 2:41PM

Google Abuses: Worldwide Spying, Censorship, War Promotion, Spying On Children, Etc O02 11:08AM

Paraphysique de l'administration O02 8:34AM

Paraphysique O02 8:31AM

Affordable Rents? A State of Emergency Intensifies O01 11:36AM

A Few Of Many Impeachable Acts by Trump Sessions And Others O01 4:41AM

Désengrammation, l'éloge de la suite S30 7:01AM

someone Should Work In Hollywood - Good Acting! S28 2:55PM

Ford Gives Psych Drugs To Lower Class To Shut Them Up? S28 2:51PM

Hilllary Calls Ford Trailer Trash? S28 2:47PM

Most Rapes Are In Marriages S28 2:43PM

Nice Boys Dirty Deeds S28 2:41PM

Minnesota 2nd Largest Rape State S28 2:39PM

Paraphysique de la plus-value S28 7:18AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy