- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2007

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona prosecutors, stripped of a powerful tool in the fight against illegal border crossing, say they will rely on such standard tactics as wiretaps and surveillance to crack down on human traffickers.

A judge ruled that state prosecutors have no right to seize money transfers into Mexico from other states — cash that investigators suspect pays for human trafficking. Such seizures violate constitutional protections on interstate and international commerce, the judge said, adding that prosecutors failed to show that the wire transfer customers were committing crimes.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said his office will use other means to combat smuggling, but he added that nothing will prove as effective as the ability to seize money transfers with special court orders known as “damming warrants.”

The name comes from the attempt to “dam” up all wire transfers meeting certain criteria until the person to whom the money is being sent can show that the cash is for a legal purpose. Armed with such warrants, authorities have seized $17 million in money transfers into Arizona and arrested more than 100 smugglers, said Mr. Goddard, who plans to appeal the ruling.

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