Police On The Border Receive Grant To Fight Money Laundering
July 11, 2012

The Chula Vista Police Department received a $2.9 million grant to help it beef up its anti-money laundering efforts along the border.

Photo by Nathan Gibbs
A police officer patrols the border crossing in Tijuana.

The 3-year grant, from the Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance, will go toward forming a new anti-money laundering task force in San Diego and Imperial Counties. It will be led by the Chula Vista Police Department.

Lon Turner, acting captain of the department, said local law enforcement often prioritizes the fight against cross-border drug smuggling and violent criminal activity, rather than investigating money laundering operations.

“They can become so paper-intensive and they can take quite a bit of time to put together,” Turner said. “That’ll be the role of this team.”

The federal government estimates that between $18 billion and $39 billion in drug trafficking proceeds are smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border each year.

The grant for the new anti-money laundering task force comes from a settlement reached in 2010 between the state of Arizona and Western Union. Arizona had accused Western Union of turning a blind eye to laundering money across the border through its wire service.