U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agents in California and Arizona seized more than $1.1 million in U.S. currency during several vehicle inspections over the past two weeks — an average of nearly $80,000 a day in illicit cash.
CBP spokesman William L. Brooks in Texas said the agency’s increased focus on southbound inspections has significantly increased “the cost of doing business for violent criminal organizations” and “will continue to serve as a valuable tool in our efforts to enforce smart, effective and strategic border operations.”
Mr. Brooks said the cash was mostly headed to violent drug gangs in Mexico to fuel an ongoing war between rival factions over the control of lucrative smuggling routes into the United States.
There are seven major drug smuggling cartels operating in Mexico, all of which illegally transport narcotics into the United States and smuggle illicit drug profits back into Mexico.
The Sinaloa cartel operates along Mexico’s Pacific coast; the Gulf cartel is based in Tamaulipas on the Gulf of Mexico coast; Los Zetas control much of the Gulf coast; and the Juarez cartel operates in the northern border town of Ciudad Juarez.
In addition, the Beltran-Leyva Organization is headquartered in the southern regions of Mexico’s Pacific coast; the Tijuana cartel, also known as the Arellano Felix Organization, is based in the northwestern border town of Tijuana; and La Familia Michoacan is active in Michoacan, home to Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
Nearly 40,000 people have been killed in Mexico as part of that war.
“These drug cartels are in the business of making money and the cash seizures are just another tool in the law enforcement tool box to make it more difficult for them to be successful,” Mr. Brooks said.
In March 2009, CBP created the Outbound Programs Division within the agency’s Office of Field Operations. The division creates plans to stem the outbound flow of firearms, currency, stolen vehicles and fugitives from the United States. It also has increased its use of “pulse and surge” strategies for outbound operations on the Southwest border.
In an effort to maximize the impact of its resources, the pulse and surge strategy includes the random deployment of outbound teams in nine Southwest sectors, assigned on the basis of intelligence information, to check vehicles headed out of the United States - assisted by U.S. Border Patrol agents.
Mr. Brooks noted several significant seizures over the past two weeks, including:
• Aug. 23, Border Patrol agents in El Paso seized $122,500 in cash at the Interstate 10 checkpoint near Las Cruces, N.M. Agents discovered the money after an immigration inspection that also resulted in the seizure of two weapons and marijuana. Three U.S. citizens were arrested and turned over to other federal agencies for investigation and prosecution.
• CBP officers conducting outbound operations Tuesday at the Dennis DeConcini port of entry in Nogales, Ariz., seized 23 packages from a non-factory compartment in the front of the vehicle. The packages contained more than $147,000. The 19-year-old driver, a U.S. citizen, was taken into custody and handed over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for additional investigation.
• Aug. 21, CBP officers conducting outbound enforcement operations at the Mariposa port of entry in Arizona discovered 15 packages of U.S. currency valued at $379,863, hidden inside a compartment built into the vehicles firewall area. The driver, a 51-year-old man from Mexico, was arrested and turned over to ICE for further investigation.
• Aug. 20, CBP officers conducting outbound enforcement operations at the Dennis DeConcini port of entry discovered 26 packages of U.S. currency valued at $494,287 hidden inside a compartment built into the vehicles firewall. Officers seized the undeclared currency and the vehicle. The driver, a 38-year-old man from Mexico, was arrested and turned over to ICE for further investigation.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Jerry Seper is the investigative editor for The Washington Times.
By Elaine Donnelly
Extending sexual misconduct to combat units
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Video reviews of today's hottest trends in Minecraft (servers and mods) along with a look at the latest video games with your host MCairsoft14 (alias Jerad Zad).
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Contributions to the Communities Sports desk from readers.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention