Wednesday, October 23, 2013



Note: Money Money Money. ( Sorry ABBA) From big bucks to small
Money laundering seems to be the activity right behind consuming dope
in the AZ.
At least that is a suspicion of some of us locals.

Good article in Oct. HST on scope of money laundering by Sylvia

Ex wife of former Mexican President accused of involvement of money
laundering scheme of $500 - 600 million USD. (Spanish)

Phoenix real estate guru indicted on federal charges
By Associated Press
Originally published: Oct 22, 2013 - 2:27 pm

PHOENIX -- The founder of a well-known Phoenix real estate investment
firm is accused of helping two clients purchase a home with money
made from drug trafficking. Federal investigators said Tuesday that
Tanya Maria Marchiol was indicted by a grand jury Oct. 8 on 11 charges.

The counts included conspiracy to commit money laundering,
transactional money laundering and structuring financial transactions.

Marchiol, 39, did not immediately return a message seeking comment

According to the indictment, two people approached Marchiol in 2008
about buying a home but helping them conceal ownership.

Marchiol has been a commentator on business and real estate for
television networks including Fox News and CNBC. She co-founded
TEAM Investments and her clients include Philadelphia Eagles
quarterback Donovan McNabb, according to the company's website.


Comment: Questions for citizens still remain: How much cash can I
have at the border? Many (no connection to crime) with family in
Mexico know they can't trust the "system" to get money back to them.
Especially for home, business, property, or vehicle purchases.

For the gun guys and gals: Not necessarily at the POE, but near the
border. How much ammunition? How many firearms? Can one be
visiting or living in the border areas with their handgun, AR15,
M1A, etc. and 500 rounds? 250 rounds? 100? 1,000? Knowing that
in a situation, ammo can get used up very fast.

No cash back for dropped money laundering charge
Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 8:45 am | Updated: 9:35 am, Tue Oct
22, 2013.
By Jonathan Clark
Nogales International | 0 comments

There was nothing inherently illegal about 24-year-old Joan Alberto
Melendez Buera's attempt to cross the border into Mexico on July 13
with approximately $9,700 in cash.
There's no law against stuffing large amounts of cash in a McDonald's
bag with a couple of cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches, as
Melendez had done with part of the money, or strapping cash to your
body, as he did with the other part. After all, there are plenty of
legitimate reasons why someone walking into Mexico would want to
safely secure their money.
What's more, there's no requirement that outbound travelers declare
cash amounts less than $10,000 to U.S. port officers.

But something made U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers decide
to stop and question Melendez. And when the Nogales, Sonora resident
allegedly told a detective that he had picked up the money for his
friend Luis, and that the money had come from "drugs that Luis sells
in Tucson," he was arrested and subsequently charged in the local
courts with one count of second-degree money laundering, a Class 3
felony offense that specifically accused him of helping to launder
racketeering proceeds.
Then on Sept. 23, a day before Melendez was set to go to trial at
Santa Cruz County Superior Court, the County Attorney's Office agreed
to drop the money laundering charge in exchange for a plea deal that
saw Melendez convicted of a single count of false reporting to law
enforcement, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
That same day, court records show, Judge James A. Soto sentenced
Melendez to three years of unsupervised probation, including 72 days
in jail. Soto credited Melendez with the 72 days he had already
served while awaiting trial, and ordered him released from the county

Melendez, who had entered the United States on a legal visa, was then
turned over to federal immigration authorities for formal removal
proceedings. According to a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, he was served with a notice to appear before an
immigration judge, and on Oct. 9, the judge ordered him removed from
the United States. He was repatriated to Mexico that same day, his
visa revoked.

Yet despite the fact that Melendez was never convicted of money
laundering, he didn't get the $9,700 back. The money is still in the
possession of the state, subject to a civil process that the County
Attorney's Office hopes will end with a judge forfeiting the cash for
its Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) fund.
The Melendez case illustrates the parallel processes that prosecutors
use to try to convict alleged money launderers and seize their
allegedly crooked cash. And as this outcome shows, the state's
ability to seize cash through civil proceedings does not depend on a
conviction in criminal court.

The arrest of Melendez also demonstrates how the $10,000 threshold
for cash declarations – a requirement that's prominently broadcast on
plaques and LED displays at local ports of entry – does not inhibit
federal officers from questioning and detaining people with smaller

CBP search authority
When a federal investigator questioned Melendez following his arrest
at the port, he allegedly said that his friend Luis had offered him
$300 to cross the border and pick up the cash. So he went to the
McDonald's restaurant on Crawford Street and met with a third person,
who handed him the money. He then bought a bag of food, and hid at
least part of the cash in the bag.
When he tried to cross back into Mexico, Melendez attracted the
attention of CBP officers conducting outbound inspections, who
subsequently noticed the cash in the bag.

Port officers in Nogales had seen fast food containers used in the
past to smuggle contraband. Less than a month earlier, CBP officers
at the Dennis DeConcini port stopped Rio Rico resident Rene Becerra-
Portillo Jr., a 22-year-old McDonald's employee, and found $50,000 in
cash hidden under some food in a take-out bag. Becerra later pleaded
guilty in federal court to bulk cash smuggling. On Feb. 24, CBP
officers at the Morley Gate busted 28-year-old Patricia Ladonna
Draper with 2 pounds of methamphetamines hidden in a Chinese
restaurant take-out container. She pleaded guilty to a Class 4 felony
charge in local court.
"He had this money, it's hidden in a McDonald's bag, he's incredibly
nervous, he says it's not his and he says it's drug money," said
Vanessa Cartwright, the deputy county attorney who handled the
criminal case against Melendez.

Still, is a young man's nervousness in front of law enforcement, and
the fact that other people have smuggled contraband in fast food
bags, sufficient reason for CBP officers to inspect a bag of
hamburgers during an outbound inspection? And if the cash found in
the bag totaled less than $10,000, what allowed authorities to use it
as the basis to begin questioning that led to the alleged statement
that it was drug money?

A CBP spokesman did not return a request for comment by press time,
but according to the "CBP Search Authority" page on the agency's
website, "To keep our borders secure, we must inspect everyone who
arrives at a U.S. port of entry."
Officers may ask travelers about their citizenship, the nature of
their travel and anything they are bringing back to the United
States, the CBP website says. "We may also examine your baggage,
including electronic equipment, or your car, which we have the legal
authority to do."

In cases when people who are found to be carrying cash, Cartwright
said, law enforcement officers are likely to continue their
questioning when the person tells them the money is not theirs.

In Melendez's case, she said, the investigators were courteous during
the interrogation, and he was candid about the source of the cash.
Defense lawyer Tom Fink, who represented Melendez, offered a
different version of port-of-entry interrogations of youthful suspects.
"They pound on you, 'Come on, tell us, tell us, we know it's drug
money, we know it's drug money, we know it's drug money, and if you
tell us that, then everything's going to be fine, we're going to let
you go,'" Fink said. "So eventually, kids just tell them what they
want to hear."

Melendez, he said, now asserts he went to pick up the money for a
relative who couldn't cross the border. In a pretrial motion, Fink
argued that Melendez's alleged statement following his arrest should
not be admissible because the state had no other foundation to show
how Melendez knew that the money had come from drug sales.
The issue turned out to be moot after the County Attorney's Office
offered the misdemeanor plea deal and the money laundering trial was

"They have to prove that it's the proceeds of some kind of illegal
activities, specified unlawful activity," Fink said of the money
laundering charge. "And I don't think they were going to be able to
do that."
Cartwright said there were several factors that contributed to the
decision to let Melendez plead to a misdemeanor, including his
forthrightness with law enforcement, his lack of a criminal history,
the fact that the case was a federal referral, and the relatively
small amount of cash involved.
"This wasn't about, 'If we go to trial we're never going to be able
to convict him,'" she said, "because we obviously wouldn't have filed
Civil forfeiture

Cartwright cited another factor that played into the decision not to
go to trial: the state is expecting to keep the $9,700.
That's because the cash seized from Melendez has been subjected to a
civil forfeiture procedure that requires a lower burden of proof from
the state than the proof-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard it needs
to convict someone at a criminal trial. And while the same evidence
can be used in both the criminal and civil proceedings, the
forfeiture case can still go forward if the criminal charge is dropped.

"For the civil forfeiture, what would be used to forfeit the money
would be the circumstances it was found, the statements he made about
who it belongs to, the fact that he said it wasn't his," Cartwright
said in reference to the Melendez case.
"Any time someone makes an admission that monies are drug proceeds,
and they disclaim the money, we proceed with civil forfeiture," she
said. "We do a notice, and then the true owner is welcome to come
forward and claim the money."

Fink recalled the old legal adage "possession is nine-tenths of the
"The government's got the money, so you've got to get it back," he said.
"They just take the money away. Then as far as giving the money back,
it's too expensive for people to hire a lawyer to get the money back."

Cartwright said the law is very specific about the requirements for
law enforcement officers to seize money from civilians.
"If they can say, 'This is my money, and I'm not telling you anything
else,' they don't take their money. If you say, 'It's not my money,
it's a relative's money,' they don't take your money. If you say,
'It's not my money and it's drug money, that's when they take it,"
she said.
Even then, Cartwright said, she has seen several cases at the County
Attorney's Office in which confiscated cash was returned to someone
after prosecutors decided that it was rightfully theirs.
"We do not seize money just to take it," she said.


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