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20 July 2005

U.S. Reports Success in Attacking Financing for Drug Traffickers

Drug organizations disrupted in Western Hemisphere, DEA's Tandy reports

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is reporting success in attacking the financing of major drug-trafficking organizations in the Western Hemisphere.

In a July 19 statement, DEA Administrator Karen Tandy touted operations conducted under her agency's "Money Trail Initiative," which effectively crippled the ability of drug criminals to finance their illegal dealings.  Under the initiative, Tandy said, the DEA has seized more than $28 million, made 230 arrests, and seized 1,581 kilograms of cocaine and 37,055 pounds of marijuana.

Although money is the main motivation for drug traffickers, "it is also their Number 1 vulnerability," said Tandy.  "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."

Tandy added that the initiative also helped the DEA to dismantle a major Mexican money-transportation organization and to "tear apart" a violent marijuana-trafficking organization in Detroit.

"That's the kind of damage we will continue to inflict by attacking the drug trade at its financial core," she said.

In the case involving the two drug-trafficking brothers, the DEA said it was able to identify the dealings of Arturo Arriola-Marquez, who has been indicted in the U.S. state of Colorado due to his involvement in the drug trade.  The DEA said Arriola-Marquez is currently on the run from law enforcement officials in Mexico.

The DEA said Arriola-Marquez was on the U.S. government's "Consolidated Priority Organization Target" list, which is designed to identify the world's most significant international drug traffickers and money launderers.  The list enables U.S. federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to focus their resources on pursuing these highest-priority targets.

Mexican authorities arrested Arturo Arriola-Marquez's drug-trafficking brother, Miguel, in September 2004.

The Bush administration in June designated both brothers as "drug kingpins" under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which targets, on a worldwide basis, significant foreign narcotics traffickers, their organizations and operatives.

The purpose of the Kingpin Act is to deny significant foreign narcotics traffickers, their related businesses and their operatives access to the U.S. financial system and all trade and transactions involving U.S. companies and individuals.

In another success, the DEA said that by following the money, it was able to identify and subsequently indict Mexican money broker Saul Saucedo-Chaidez, who received and moved nearly $42 million a year in drug money between the United States and Mexico.  Mexican law enforcement authorities arrested Saucedo-Chaidez in February, and U.S. authorities have requested his extradition to the United States.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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