(Tucson, Ariz. -- May 26, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced the expansion of his Office’s border crime enforcement efforts through the creation of Arizona’s first Border Crime Prosecution Team, made possible by his $94 million recovery earlier this year from Western Union.
The 10-12 person team will be headquartered in Tucson, partially at the federal government’s Intelligence and Operations Coordination Center (IOCC), and will consist of investigators and prosecutors dedicated to fighting border-related crime.
The new team will concentrate on crimes committed by the Mexican cartels involved in the smuggling of drugs, weapons, money and humans across Arizona's southern border. It will conduct investigations into cartel operations with a goal of bringing cartel leaders to justice.
The $94 million recovery from Western Union resolved complex legal actions related to the company's money transfers that the Attorney General's Office alleged were sometimes used for criminal purposes.
"This initiative will bring unprecedented resources and sophistication to our ongoing fight against organized criminal operations on the border," Goddard said. "Our border crime team puts Arizona in a much stronger position to combat the violent cartels that threaten our state and smuggle people and drugs across our border."
The team will be headed by Richard Wintory, a former senior prosecutor in the Pima County Attorney's Office and one of the most experienced border crime prosecutors in the country.
Wintory has received several awards for his legal work, including being named Prosecutor of the Year twice in the past five years. He was given that honor by the Arizona Narcotics Officers Association in 2005 and by his colleagues on the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys Advisory Council in 2007.
The Border Enforcement Section will work in coordination with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the International Operation Control Center (IOCC) in Tucson and will use state-of-the-art intelligence to achieve its mission. The new facility is the epicenter of sophisticated intelligence collection along the border, compiling data as diverse as camera feeds from Predator Drone aircraft to undercover reports from federal agents on both sides of the border.
Goddard also announced that Assistant Attorney General Cameron "Kip" Holmes has accepted the position of Executive Director of the Southwest Border anti-money laundering Alliance (SWBA) staff. The Alliance is a four-state law enforcement entity funded by monies recovered as a result of the Western Union prosecution.
Under Holmes' direction, the Alliance staff will immediately begin distributing at least $50 million in grants for criminal investigations and prosecutions along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.
Holmes was Arizona's lead attorney in the Western Union case and is a nationally known expert in money laundering prosecutions. The Arizona Bar Association honored him with its Distinguished Public Lawyer Award in 2005.
Working together, the Border Crimes Prosecution Team and the SWBA will ramp up law enforcement efforts to disrupt and dismantle the criminal cartels responsible for most border crime.
For more information, contact Steve Wilson at (602) 542-8351.