Monday, January 26, 2015



US banks support Sonora 'Coyotes'
Details Published on Sunday January 25, 2015,
Written by Special


The trafficking of undocumented Central Americans has become big business for US banks, as it is through them that 'moves' the cash flow.

Dionisio Díaz takes a seat in the Evangelical Christian Assembly Church, located in an office complex in Doraville, a suburb of Atlanta. It has been a week of six days of work for the crew of gardeners, mowing and trimming bushes. The undocumented immigrant, 37, a native of Guatemala, take a Bible and joins dozens of worshipers singing a hymn in Spanish.

When Saturday evening church service ends in late October, Diaz gets up to greet the pastor. "My dream is to be up there, preaching the gospel, as you," Diaz says with a broad smile on his face. "I have been blessed by God to get here."

Other more earthly powers also helped Diaz on his trip to the United States: he hired a band of smugglers or coyotes, those who crossed the US border to a safe house in Mesa, Arizona, and from there to Georgia.

Diaz paid part of the journey was using one of the largest US banks, Wells Fargo & Co.
It is a story that repeats itself over and over in that river of illegal immigrants from Latin America to the United States. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the 'coyotes' capture 10 billion dollars a year for about 3 million illegal crossings along the Mexican border.
Large banks such as Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo, have been used as financing vehicles for industry of human trafficking, as confirmed by evidence of a federal criminal case against a gang of 15 traffickers and court orders of prosecutors in Arizona, Maryland and Texas.

"The smuggling is big business," says Stephen Adaway, Head of Unit Research trafficking Department of Homeland Security in Washington. "And they could not operate at this scale without the banks."
At a dinner of rice and fish in the Rincon Latino Restaurant in Doraville, Dionisio Díaz describes how banks were crucial to make the trip achieved six thousand 600 kilometers from Sibinal, a village west of Guatemala, Georgia.
Diaz, of slim build, speaking in a low voice and discreet. Just before dawn on December 1, 2012, Dionisio and his nephew, Danilo, 22, crossed on foot Guatemala border with Mexico and traveled by bus to the northern Mexican city of Altar. (SON) There, they found the coyote, Rafael, at 2 am in the dark main square.

These researchers instructed banks to seek common patterns smugglers as large cash deposits made in a state which were then removed almost immediately in the southwest.
Banks identified and marked hundreds of accounts for the fiscal investigated, according to an affidavit by a federal agent. Banks were not accused of any crime.

Phoenix police found the same patterns of transactions and seized hundreds of accounts at Bank of America, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo from 2006 to 2008. Since March 2013, prosecutors in Arizona have gotten court orders to shut 325 other accounts suspected of belonging the gangs of traffickers in Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

And from June to September 2014, in what officials called Operation Coyote, the Department of Homeland Security seized $ 950,000 in 504 accounts in banks in Arizona, Maryland and Texas.
There is nothing illegal per se to make a cash deposit in a bank; people do it all the time. But by failing to prevent traffickers from using their institutions, banks continue to allow illegal and often violent trafficking, says Tom Welch, who heads the financial crimes unit in the office of Arizona Department of Homeland Security.

"Regulators and bankers are not doing a good job in monitoring their accounts, do not employ a ordinary level of suspicion," said former Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, who led investigations of trafficking in persons while he was the head of the prosecutor's office in 2003-2010.

The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 and the Patriot Act of 2001 require US banks monitor any transaction that may be linked to money laundering and other crimes, including human smuggling. Banks must designate an official responsible for such compliance, identify the crimes that their customers are at risk of committing and develop policies to detect and stop this type of transaction.

Banks must report any suspected criminal activity to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, an agency of the Treasury of the United States. FinCEN submitted reports of suspicious activity to the police for further investigation.

But for years the smugglers have been smarter than banks and regulators. In January 2006, prosecutors ordered JPMorgan and Wells Fargo seek accounts suspected of being used by coyotes.

"We are concerned that so much money is being passed. We are losing the battle, "says Welch.
From 2013 prosecutors and federal agents began pressuring banks to take action against traffickers, with mixed results, says Arizona Attorney General spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham.


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