San Diego: Homeland Security stole hundreds of thousands from Tijuana money couriers
Part 1: June 2013: "I smell something"
With minutes til he reached the border, CW1 (Cooperating witness 1) must have been relieved. It had been a long day, a drive down from Los Angeles, congested traffic all the way down the 405, and then the 5. He was on he 805 southbound, passing the 905 interchange. He didn't know where, but inside the Honda Odessey was 440,000 dollars in cash. Money from drug loads of cocaine, crystal, heroin, whatever, he didn't know. Product that made it's way from Sinaloa, to Tijuana, and on to LA.
He had swapped cars with an associate whom he had never met in LA, waited near a Starbucks, until his was returned. He didn't know how to access the trap door that contained his bosses money. No mistakes, and clean driving, no stops. He was nervous, yesterday they had detained him for hours at the border, he thought the run was canceled, but his boss gave the greenlight. He picked up CW2 in Chula Vista, and the two drove north. Now, he was close. Then he saw the lights.
A silver SUV flashing red and white lights from the rearview mirror area was behind them, gesturing to keep driving, the driver of the SUV, a black male, guided them off the on ramp, and to the side of the road. He approached the vehicle and said: "I smell something.....I know there is something, it better not be guns, because there is nothing I can do about that, but if it's money I can write some paperwork and let you go". Panicking, CW1 realizes he saw him yesterday, as he was detained at the border.
He handcuffed CW and CW2, and placed them in his SUV. He then walked around to the hood of the Honda, and opened the truck. He removed an item from under the hood, and then placed a box containing that item, back in the SUV. He confiscated their passport cards, and ordered CW2 to place a phone call, to get instructions to have the trap door compartment opened. When this was done, he removed stacks of money, placed them into plastic bags, and threw them to the right side of the Honda, in the dirt.
Then the men were unhandcuffed, and drove themselves to the Bank of America in San Ysirdro. The man took pictures of CW1 and told him to tell his boss "he was pulled over by the CHP". He gave them no paperwork to document the seizure, which is a possible death warrant, when you lose almost half a million dollars in drug proceeds. The men returned to Mexico.
In subsequent interviews with investigators, the men identified Tyrone Cedric Duren as the man they had seen that night, and CW1 had seen the previous day at the border. He was a Homeland Security Agent, on the Bulk Cash Smuggling Task Force. He owned a home in Bonsall, Fallbrook. He had been a CHP officer until 2008, when he joined Homeland Security Investigations. He had participated in over 40 seizures, to the approx. total of 20 million dollars. On October the Homeland Security Investigations, Office of Inspector Genera received a complaint that Duren was conspiring to commit bank fraud, money laundering, structure financial transactions, and evade taxes. An investigation began.
To Be continued.
Sources: US Attorneys Oiffce, UT San Diego