(Phoenix, Ariz. – April 23, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today commended a bill co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that would impose tough new regulations on stored value devices, money-transfer method widely used by Mexican drug cartels.
Goddard joined Giffords and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik at a press conference this morning in Tucson to announce the measure, co-sponsored by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.)
Stored value devices can be similar to credit cards with monetary value encoded on a magnetic strip. Stored value cards are effective replacements for cash and have many applications for retail purchases. Cell phones that can be used to download prepaid amounts are also included in the bill. The measure would count money stored in these pre-paid cards or other devices as currency.
"This legislation represents another major step in our ability to crack down on the drug cartels and organized border crime," Goddard said. "Attacking the flow of illicit funds is fundamental to crushing the cartels, and we need to adapt as quickly as they do. As the cartels switch from money wires to other money-transmission devices, our laws must keep pace.”
“This bill is a common-sense solution that will give law enforcement the tools they need to combat money-laundering,” Giffords said. “The narco-terrorists and their drug cartels are wreaking havoc on communities all across Arizona and the nation. My goal with this bill is to tighten the screws and make it significantly more difficult for them to operate.”
The Attorney General’s Office has worked aggressively choke off funds that finance the drug cartels. Two months ago, Goddard reached a $94 million settlement with Western Union to resolve years of litigation related to the cartels’ use of wire transfers to facilitate smuggling. The settlement includes unprecedented access to data on future transactions that will enable law enforcement throughout the Southwest border to identify and disrupt cartel money transfers as they occur.
The Attorney General’s Office worked closely with Rep. Giffords to craft the language for the bill.