Goddard Hails Lawsuit’s Dismissal as Victory for Border Security

(Phoenix, Ariz. – Dec. 29, 2008) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced that the Maricopa County Superior Court has dismissed Western Union Financial Services v. Terry Goddard, a lawsuit that impeded his Office’s ability to stop money transfers sent to pay human smugglers.

This dismissal paves the way for Goddard to continue issuing Geographic Targeting Orders (GTOs). These require money transmitters, including Western Union, to obtain proof of identification from customers sending more than $500 to specific locations that forensic analysis demonstrates are likely being used to transmit human smuggling proceeds.

Upon taking office in 2003, Goddard began issuing GTOs on specific money transmitter locations, including some Western Union locations, in Arizona and northern Mexico. These orders have deterred numerous money transmitters from facilitating the movement of drug and human smuggling proceeds. The orders also have enabled law enforcement to identify and prosecute businesses that are complicit with the money laundering activities of human and drug smuggling syndicates and have driven much of the violence associated with money laundering out of Arizona.

In their lawsuit filed in December 2006, Western Union alleged that GTOs requiring proof of identification from customers sending more than $500 to specific southern Arizona locations were unlawful. The Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed the case on December 24.

"Following the money is the most effective technique we have to fight human smuggling syndicates and the border violence associated with them,” Goddard said. “We will continue to work to secure our border and use all legal means available to pursue money transmitters who turn a blind eye to criminal proceeds flowing through their stores." Goddard also noted that the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) recently fined Western Union $2 million for failing fully obey the GTOs issued by his Office.

Throughout 2008, Goddard has widened his pursuit of human smuggling syndicates into Mexico through a bilateral agreement with the Sonora Attorney General’s Office. Under the terms of this agreement, the two states have committed to work together to combat human trafficking and money laundering and share information in criminal investigations.

For more information, contact Anne Hilby at (602) 542-8019.