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Southwest Border Alliance Has Vital Role in Fighting Drug Cartels, Goddard Says

(Phoenix, Ariz. -- Nov. 17, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today hailed the work of the newly formed Southwest Border Alliance and said it will "take the fight against organized crime on the U.S.-Mexico border to a whole new level." 

Goddard, speaking at an Alliance meeting this week in Austin, Texas, told the group that it marks a high point in the effective coordination of law enforcement efforts. The conference was attended by top Mexican law enforcement officials as well as state, local and federal agencies, including senior officials from the U.S. Department of Justice and Treasury Department. 

"The Alliance is our best hope to get ahead of the drug cartels and stop their reign of terror," Goddard said. "Now is the time to mount a maximum state-federal-local effort to block the steady flow of money that pays for their criminal operations on both sides of the border."  

The Alliance was formed as a result of the historic, $94 million settlement between the Arizona Attorney General and Western Union last February. It is funded with $50 million from the settlement to combat border crimes and award grants to law enforcement agencies in the four Southwest border states: Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. 

Goddard noted that the Western Union settlement also gives the Alliance new access to cross-border wire transfer data, which already has sparked several new investigations related to drug- and human-smuggling in California.

But he also pointed out holes in anti-money laundering defenses, including the lack of federal regulation of stored value instruments and poor oversight of bank accounts used to move money across the border. As the cartels grow more sophisticated and branch into other business lines beyond smuggling, they become more difficult to stop, he said. 

For more information, contact Steve Wilson at (602) 542-8351.