Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Report: Criminals smuggle up to $39 billion in drug money, US stops $41 million

By Diana Washington Valdez \ El Paso Times

The Government Accountability Office is calling for urgent action to stop cross-border currency smuggling after federal officials seized $41 million in cash in a little more than a year.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., asked the GAO last year to examine the transportation of bulk cash proceeds from drug sales in the United States to Mexico or Canada. After finishing its investigation, the GAO produced its findings in the report, "Moving Illegal Proceeds."

According to the report, the National Drug Intelligence Center estimates that criminals smuggle between $18 billion and $39 billion each year across the Southwest border alone.

Between March 2009 and June 2010, after Customs and Border Protection was asked to step up efforts to stem the flow of bulk cash, U.S. agents seized about $41 million in illicit bulk cash leaving the United States at border crossings.

Because Customs and Border Protection does not conduct full-time inspections of outbound traffic, and because other measures are lacking, only a fraction of the illicit cash flow is seized.

The GAO report said technology is creating new money laundering concerns. One of the examples cited is stored value cards. These are prepaid cards loaded with value or currency that are used to move illegal proceeds across the border and around the world.

Unlike with cash, there are no laws in place that require border-crossers to declare the value of prepaid cards they may be transporting.

Mobile phones are also being used with greater frequency to conduct money transactions that may be difficult to detect.

Roger Maier, spokesman for Customs and Border Protection in El Paso, said that as of August of this year, CBP had seized $40.9 million in illicit southbound cash along the Southwest border, a 16.1-percent increase over the same period during the previous year.

"We do not typically comment on the number, frequency or duration of outbound operations, although they have increased," Maier said.

The Mexican government has complained that cash and weapons that flow south of the border enable drug cartels to conduct the kind of bloody battles that have killed thousands of people in Mexico.

The GAO report said arms as well as cash are being seized at the border.
"In June 2010, officers conducting outbound operations at the San Luis, Arizona, port of entry seized a large sport utility vehicle, 114 grenades, and over 2,500 rounds of various types of ammunition," the report said.

Sen. Bingaman of New Mexico said "this report makes clear that we can't solve this problem unless we improve our border infrastructure and technological capabilities. Doing so would make it possible for us to seize billions of dollars per year and deprive drug traffickers of the proceeds that finance their deadly operations."

2 comments:

  1. Think about it for a second. Most of this drugs are consumed by Americans. Yes Americans, control the drug addicts here in the US and there will not be any drug trafficking.

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  2. I AGREE!! Its on both sides of the boarder but as a saying goes grab the bull by the horns, obviously there is what is called supply and demand and there is a demand where they cannot supply IE USA.. the cartells know that they have the resources to make what they need in remote jungle areas where its not as easy here in the us.. There for the best way for them is to trasport it across the boarder.. And since they are stating that yes its an increase in the crackdown at boarders.. the us side and the mexican side need to communicate and work together on makeing the boarder non negotiable on the inspections so what??? people have to wait a little longer increase jobs for the boarder.. but the more we are able to provide the MAN POWER and facilitate the inspections it will be an increase on makeing sure we are able to continue the fight... As for the money side and being able to cut the cash flow!! like some money places that you can load up cards there should be a limit to the amout you load on the card.. there has to be a way to cut it off at the pass so to speak..they are smart and always looking for the angle we need to be on the same page in seeing what the next move with be.. inocent lives are at stake.. and hurting them where it counts will at least shake them down a bit..

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