Feds to crack down on illegal wire transfers

Federal authorities are looking at new ways to keep millions of dollars out of the hands of immigrant smugglers.

For years, authorities have documented how criminals exploit Western Union, MoneyGram and other wire transfer services.

The services have extensive networks used to send bill payments or transfers to family members in the United States or overseas.

But U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) told Action 4 News that those services are being exploited by human smugglers or drug traffickers to get paid.

Cornyn discussed the issue with several law enforcement agencies at McAllen’s federal courthouse on Tuesday.

Authorities said the families of illegal immigrants often pay human smugglers through wire transfer services.

Cornyn said an illegal immigrant from Mexico may pay $1,000 dollars or more while an illegal immigrant from China may pay up to $40,000.

He said federal law enforcement agencies are now looking at new ways to close loopholes and cut off a pipeline worth millions dollars.

“One of the things I learned here today is how little information that is supplied in these wire transfers…information that should be kept that should be subject to an audit and should be subject to law enforcement investigative subpoenas to investigate these crimes,” Cornyn said at a press conference.

Jerry Robinette with U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement said authorities have already started working with several wire transfer companies to weed out criminals.

“It’s an industry that we’ve worked with… very closely with…to find their vulnerabilities, so we can enhance our ability to identify those smuggling organizations that are responsible for the majority of smuggling in South Texas,” he said.

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