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“Blood Wires” Continue to Flow Over the Mexican Border

western-union

Money transfers have long been the lifeline for drug traffickers and others involved in illegal activity. Authorities in Arizona say Western Union is smack in the middle of it all and hasn’t cooperated enough. Western Union calls the allegations “erroneous and inflammatory”.

By Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times
PHOENIX —  The bleeding body of Mexican immigrant Javier Resendiz Martinez was the first thing police noticed when they raided the bungalow on North 63rd Avenue here four years ago after reports of gunshots.

Soon afterward, however, they found payment logs of more than 100 wire transfers to Western Unions in the border town of Caborca, Mexico — which state and federal officials cite as evidence that the financial services company and other money transmitters are used by Mexican crime syndicates to help facilitate the smuggling of people into the United States.

Arizona Atty. Gen. Terry Goddard said human smuggling has become a $2-billion-a-year business in his state alone, thanks in large part to what he calls “blood wires,” the payments from family members, friends and employers to smugglers via Western Union and other companies.

Goddard and other Arizona officials have not accused Western Union of a crime. But in interviews and court documents they say the company consistently has rejected requests for cooperation, undermining efforts in Arizona to go after the crime cartels that control much of the increasingly violent trade in humans, drugs, weapons and laundered cash from their havens in Mexico.

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