October 8th, 2006 05:01 EST
DEA - Show me the Money
(Washington, DC) - Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Karen P. Tandy today touted the first round of successes from DEA’s “Money Trail Initiative,” an innovative financial crime strategy that attacks the financing of the illegal drug trade and dismantles major drug trafficking organizations.
Administrator Tandy has always emphasized the importance of disrupting drug organizations at their financial core and has directed DEA offices worldwide to initiate drug investigations that would identify and attack the financial structure supporting the illegal drug trade. DEA has made unprecedented progress in seizing and forfeiting drug-related proceeds and assets. That progress has continued with the establishment of the “Money Trail Initiative.” Through these operations, DEA identifies and disrupts the flow of the money back to the sources of drug supply, effectively crippling the ability of these criminals to operate.
Today’s announcement highlights the first operational successes of the “Money Trail Initiative” following three nationally coordinated operations: Operation Choque, Operation Denali, and Operation Falling Star.
“While money is the main motivation for drug traffickers, it is also their number one vulnerability,” Mrs. Tandy observed. “In this initiative, we followed the money trail from several cash seizures in the U.S. around the Western Hemisphere, and it led us to identifying and indicting two drug trafficking brothers, one of whom is on the most wanted drug traffickers list. It also enabled us to dismantle a major Mexican money transportation organization, and to tear apart a violent marijuana organization in Detroit. That’s the kind of damage we will continue to inflict by attacking the drug trade at its financial core.”
Under the “Money Trail Initiative,” DEA has highlighted the large scale impact of financial investigations on major drug organizations. In a one year period under “Operation Choque”-one such investigation- DEA agents identified, targeted, and indicted Mexican money broker Saul SAUCEDO-Chaidez, aka, “The Engineer,” who received and moved nearly $42 million a year in drug money between the U.S. and Mexico. Last February, DEA efforts led to the arrest of SAUCEDO-Chaidez by Mexican authorities. The United States has requested his extradition.
In another success under this initiative, DEA was able to identify the involvement of a Consolidated Priority Organization Target (CPOT), Oscar Arturo ARRIOLA-Marquez, who has now been indicted in Colorado due to his activity in the drug trade. Currently, ARRIOLA-Marquez is on the run from law enforcement officials in Mexico.
As a result of the “Money Trail Initiative,” DEA has seized so far, a total of over $28 million dollars USC, made 230 arrests and seized 1,581 kilograms of cocaine and 37,055 pounds of marijuana.