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AG report focuses on California as portal for international crime

Criminals beyond U.S. borders are becoming more clever, and law enforcement is responding.
March 20, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fighting organized crime in California takes on a new dimension, and the boundaries are global. Criminals beyond U.S. borders are becoming more clever, and law enforcement is responding.

The Interstate 5 Freeway is a corridor of crime into California: Officials say criminals move drugs from San Diego, up the state and then to the rest of the country, and they are using modern technology to work smarter.

They aren't the criminals of old. Officials say they're now multinational tech-savvy crime organizations.

"They are just like all of us, increasingly using and relying on technology to do the work they do," said California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Harris issued a report showing how transnational gangs are use California to move illegal items into the United States.

"From Mexico into California is guns, drugs and human beings," said Harris.

The report says much of it starts at the San Ysidro border crossing: 70 percent of all imported methamphetamine comes through that point.

Drug cartels in Mexico also use tunnels. Once in the United States they partner with local gangs to move shipments all over the country.

"They want their money, so what we are finding is that they are increasingly engaged in financial crimes as a way to recover the profits of their illegal activity here in the state of California," said Harris.

Cybercriminals are infiltrating computer networks and moving money. An estimated $40 billion in illegal money was laundered in California in 2012.

"'Black pesos,' for instance: They take monies that are illicit gains and they trade that into product and then that product is shipped, exported out of the country, where it's then converted back into money," said LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore.

Officials on Thursday criticized "realignment," which is the state's plan to reduce inmates in state prison by federal order. Those criminals, many of them gang members, are sent to county jails.

"We've made 58 county jails a new business for the Mexican Mafia. The Mexican Mafia controls the drugs inside the prisons and they control a lot of the drugs outside the prisons. Now they're going to have 58 new shops to be able to do the same thing," said Imperial County District Attorney Gil Otero.

Officials say to fight these criminals, they need to stop the money with new laws to protect against cybercrimes and disrupt the flow of money across borders.


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