Friday, January 26, 2007

Fighting crime, a dollar at a time: When the state of Arizona noticed that more than $90,000 a month was changing hands at a Western Union in Douglas, Ariz., they got suspicious. After all, Douglas is a small city with an almost pathetically poor population. It is, however, near the Arizona-Sonora border, and it turns out that Douglas was the lynchpin of a huge immigrant-smuggling ring. The Washington Post reports:

People across the country, prosecutors said, were sending money to the little Western Union shop in Douglas — and scores others like it in Arizona — to pay smugglers to sneak illegal immigrants into the United States.

To fight back, Attorney General Terry Goddard employed a controversial technique known as a damming warrant to seize $17 million in money transfers into hundreds of Western Union locations in Arizona, prosecute scores of immigrant smugglers and deport hundreds of people in a program he marvels at because of its “elegant simplicity.”


So on Sept. 21, Goddard expanded the program, issuing a warrant blocking all Western Union money transfers of $500 and above from 26 states with a significant population of illegal immigrants to a group of Western Union outlets in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. He also planned on issuing warrants blocking money transfers through Western Union to nearby states such as Nevada.


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