The idea is to hit the Mexican drug cartels where it hurts most, in the pocketbook.
We have 2,000 miles of border. We have four states but we have no coordinated effort, at all, says Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.
So now, the state of Arizona is trying to coordinate the efforts of border states by dangling a $50 million carrot and stick.
Money that Arizona won from Western Union in connection with money laundering will now be used to fight money laundering.
Goddard has created the Southwest Border Anti-Drug Laundering Alliance which allows any police agency along the four border region - California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – to apply for the funds.
It can be used for many purposes but the goal is to deny the cartel money operations.
We are dedicated to going after the cartel operations here in Arizona and across the United States with the eye of destroying them, says Richard Whitney, who will head the new alliance.
There is a 22 page application on line at azag.gov which law enforcement agencies can use to apply for funding.
Not only can U.S. law enforcement agencies apply for and use the funding, but so can Mexican agencies as well.
But they must be directed by a police agency North of the border.
We're not in the business of providing large amounts of un-accounted for funds to any law enforcement agency but certainly not across the border, says Goddard.
The Pima County Sheriff's office says it will apply for some of the money to supplement its drug task force but is not sure it will use any of it for across the border operations.
Goddard says if we are going to find money laundering, it can't be done one state at a time.
He says New Mexico has already passed legislation to combat money laundering operations but has not funded it. This money can be used for that according to Goddard.
But neither Texas not California have shown much interest.
That's probably because 50% of the money laundering comes through Arizona, he says.
But if Arizona and New Mexico crack down hard enough, the operations may move to other border states and they, then, may become more interested.
The fund will also be self perpetuating. If an agency busts an operation and confiscates millions in cash, the state can be paid back for its front money, the agency keeps the rest.
Jun 22, 2010