...

Gangs Beyond Borders California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime March 2014

by user

on
Category: Documents
7

views

Report

Comments

Transcript

Gangs Beyond Borders California and the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime March 2014
Gangs Beyond Borders
California and the Fight Against
Transnational Organized Crime
March 2014
Kamala D. Harris
California Attorney General
Gangs Beyond Borders
California and the Fight Against
Transnational Organized Crime
March 2014
Kamala D. Harris
California Attorney General
Message from the Attorney General
California is a leader for international commerce. In close
proximity to Latin America and Canada, we are a state laced
with large ports and a vast interstate system. California is also
leading the way in economic development and job creation.
And the Golden State is home to the digital and innovation
economies reshaping how the world does business.
But these same features that benefit California also make the
state a coveted place of operation for transnational criminal
organizations. As an international hub, more narcotics,
weapons and humans are trafficked in and out of California than any other state. The
size and strength of California’s economy make our businesses, financial institutions
and communities lucrative targets for transnational criminal activity. Finally, transnational
criminal organizations are relying increasingly on cybercrime as a source of funds
– which means they are frequently targeting, and illicitly using, the digital tools and
content developed in our state.
The term “transnational organized crime” refers to a range of criminal activity
perpetrated by groups whose origins often lie outside of the United States but whose
operations cross international borders. Whether it is a drug cartel originating from
Mexico or a cybercrime group out of Eastern Europe, the operations of transnational
criminal organizations threaten the safety, health and economic wellbeing of all
Americans, and particularly Californians.
This is not a new threat – one of the first official trips I made as Attorney General in
2011 was to tour the United States-Mexico border and discuss strategies to combat
transnational crime with state and local law enforcement. The following year, in 2012,
we convened a working group to research and issue a report on human trafficking,
an increasing activity of transnational criminal organizations. That report, The State
of Human Trafficking in California, proposes innovative strategies to investigate and
prosecute the perpetrators and victims of trafficking. But human trafficking is only one
part of transnational crime operations.
This new report, Gangs Beyond Borders: California and the Fight Against Transnational
Organized Crime, addresses all three emerging pillars of transnational criminal activity:
the trafficking of drugs, weapons and human beings; money laundering; and high-tech
crimes, such as digital piracy, hacking and fraud. It is the result of extensive research
and consultation with federal, state, and local law enforcement, non-governmental
organizations, and academia.
The report finds that while transnational organized crime is a significant problem,
it is not insurmountable. In California, law enforcement at all levels of government
have made major strides against these criminal groups, even in the face of declining
resources. Law enforcement in foreign countries have made steady in-roads, as
well, as demonstrated by the recent arrest in February 2014 of Joaquín “El Chapo”
Guzmán Loera, the reputed head of Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa Federation cartel.
The report describes the strategies that are working and sets forth recommendations
to combat transnational organized crime. A call for sustained law enforcement
funding and collaboration between federal, state, and local governments are at the
center of these recommendations.
As transnational criminal organizations evolve in the search for profits, California will
continue to be an attractive target. Gangs Beyond Borders sheds light on this threat
in our state and highlights effective approaches in the fight against transnational
organized crime. I hope it will be a useful tool for law enforcement and the public.
Sincerely,
Attorney General Kamala D. Harris
Transnational Organized Crime
Special Project Team
Kamala D. Harris
Attorney General
Jeff Tsai
Special Assistant Attorney General
Larry Wallace
Director, Division of Law Enforcement
Rei Onishi
Deputy Attorney General
Government Law Section
Leif Dautch
Deputy Attorney General
Appeals, Writs and Trials Section
Mateo Munoz
Director, Office of California-Mexico Bilateral Relations Advisory Work Group
Kent Shaw
Chief, Bureau of Investigation
Darren Nelson
Analyst, CA State Threat Assessment Center
Anthony DaSilva
Deputy Attorney General
Appeals, Writs and Trials Section
Antonette Cordero
Deputy Attorney General
Civil Rights Enforcement Section
Jonathon Bertran-
Harris
Associate Governmental Program Analyst
Acknowledgements
The Office of the Attorney General would like to offer its appreciation for the
assistance and consultation that a range of individuals and organizations have
provided in the research, preparation, writing, and production of this Report.
The assistance of a team from the California State Threat Assessment Center, which
included Ryan Stonebraker, Matthew Hawkins, and David Herbst, was instrumental
in organizing and analyzing intelligence information and trends.
The dedication of the men and women in California law enforcement to combatting
transnational criminal organizations has been the key to our success in disrupting and
dismantling these groups. In particular, the Attorney General would like to acknowledge
the advice and help provided by the following individuals and their offices: Alameda
County Sheriff Gregory Ahern, Los Angeles High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
(“HIDTA”) Director Roger Bass, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, Citrus Heights
Police Chief Chris Boyd, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown, San Diego
County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones,
Campbell Police Sergeant Dan Livingston, San Diego and Imperial Counties HIDTA
Director Kean McAdam, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell, El Segundo Police
Lieutenant Carlos Mendoza, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos,
Central Valley HIDTA Director William Ruzzamenti, Los Angeles County Sheriff John
Scott, Northern California Regional Intelligence Center Director Mike Sena, the
California Board of Equalization’s Investigation and Special Operations Division
Chief Randy Silva, and Central Coast Gang Investigator Association Executive
Director Michael Walker. Special commendation and thanks for research assistance
and consultation are also due to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office,
the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, the Chula Vista Police Department,
the California Department of Business Oversight’s Money Transmitters Division, the
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Los Angeles Regional
Criminal Information Clearinghouse, and the CalGang Network System.
The Attorney General is grateful for the insight and support from California’s law
enforcement associations, which represent the men and women who lead the fight
against transnational organized crime in our communities. Our thanks in particular
go to the California State Sheriffs’ Association, the California Police Chiefs’
Association, the California District Attorneys’ Association, the California Narcotics
Officers’ Association, and the California Peace Officers’ Association.
Our efforts combatting transnational organized crime are shared with federal
law enforcement in California, and the Office of the Attorney General expresses
appreciation for case and research information provided by the United States
Attorneys’ Offices for the Central and Southern Districts of California and the
U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. Additional federal support for the
preparation and production of this Report was generously provided by the U.S.
Department of Homeland Security (Homeland Security Investigations), the White
House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy and National Security Council,
and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
Transnational organized crime reaches into California from abroad, and collaboration
with law enforcement partners and government entities outside of our state is vital. This
Report benefited immensely from the insight and assistance from the staff and members
of the Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance, a coalition made up of
the Attorneys General offices from Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.
We also would like to acknowledge the cooperation from the Legal Attaché of the
Mexican Attorney General’s Office.
Experts from academia, public policy institutions, and private industry provided
valuable research assistance in the development of the Report. The Office of the
Attorney General would like to thank Richard Boscovich (Microsoft Corp. Digital
Crimes Unit), Professor Ami Carpenter (University of San Diego), Dr. Vanda
Felbab-Brown (Brookings Institution), David Finn (Microsoft Corp. Digital Crimes
Unit), Beth Givens (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse), Melissa Kriz (Fox Entertainment
Group, Inc.), Michael Robinson (Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.),
Professor Stefan Savage (University of California, San Diego), Professor David
Shirk (University of San Diego), Professor Pamela Starr (University of Southern
California), and Karen Thorland (Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.).
Finally, the Attorney General would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication
of the many people in the California Department of Justice – including its Division of
Law Enforcement, Criminal Law Division, Public Rights Division, Civil Law Division,
and Communications and Imaging Resource Center – who made this Report possible.
Special thanks go to Guillermo Auyon, Danielle Ayers, Julie Basco, Sonia Bui,
Teresa Carnero, Erasmo Carrizosa, Joe Dominic, Jeremy Dunn, Oscar Estrella,
Geannie Franco, Jeanne Gahagan, Roy Giorgi, Kimberly Granger, Janette GuntherAllen, Michael Haroldson, Justin Ito, Val Jimenez, Dean Johnston, Dave King,
Ernesto Limon, Keith Lyon, Mark Mackler, Luis Marquez, Janet Mistchenko,
Tricia Morgensen, Robert Morgester, Michael Newman, Alex Nocon, Jessica Owen,
Charles Penn, Somerset Perry, Gloria Pingrey, Mitchell Pryor, Christina Rogers,
Vicki Sands, Karen Sandusky, Epifanio Sevillo, Peter Shear, Karen Sherwood,
Randy Sivilla, Robert Sumner, Mike Whitaker, Jon Wolff, and Michele Wong.
Table of Contents
Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
Highlights of the 2014 Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ii
Summary of Recommendations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iv
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
Chapter 1 – Transnational Criminal Organizations: Structure and Operations . . 1
The Rise of Mexico-Based Drug Cartels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Asian and Eastern European Transnational Criminal Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Proliferation of Transnational Gangs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
The Online Criminals: Transnational Hacking, Fraud, and Pirating Rings . . . . . . 7
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Chapter 2 – California: A Hub for Transnational Criminal Activity . . . . . . . . . . 9
Drug Trafficking Is the Most Profitable Transnational
Criminal Activity in California . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Trafficking Humans Is Almost as Profitable as Trafficking Drugs . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
California Is a Gateway in the Criminal Firearms Trade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Money Laundering Corrupts California’s Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Chapter 3 – Transnational Criminal Organizations and California Gangs:
A Growing Threat to Public Safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
California Faces a Unique Threat of Spillover Violence from Mexico . . . . . . . . 28
California Is Threatened by the Alliance of Transnational
Criminal Organizations with Prison and Street Gangs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
The Criminal Alliances Have Sparked a Rash of Violence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Chapter 4 – New Challenges Facing Law Enforcement in
Combatting Drug Trafficking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
New Technologies Facilitate Gang Activities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Increased Global Trade Has Made It Harder to Detect Illicit Trafficking . . . . . . 37
Transnational Criminal Organizations Are Finding Alternatives to Ports of Entry . . . 39
Globalization Creates New Money Laundering Threats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Chapter 5 – High-Tech Crime: A New Frontier for
Transnational Criminal Organizations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
Transnational Criminal Organizations Are Targeting Information
Systems and Networks for Attack and Exploitation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
Transnational Criminal Organizations Are Uniquely Positioned
To Exploit High-Tech Criminal Opportunities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Emerging High-Tech Crime Trends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Virtual Currencies Offer New Tools for Money Laundering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
Conclusion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
Chapter 6 – Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
Trafficking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
High-Tech Crime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
Money Laundering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
Executive Summary
Over the last century, few issues have grabbed the nation’s attention like organized
criminal activity. In particular, transnational organized crime – crime that reaches beyond
borders – has been a topic frequently explored, and occasionally even glamorized, by
the media and through film. But for the people of California, transnational organized
crime is not simply a subject for the silver screen. It is an everyday reality associated
with drug trafficking, sexual slavery, and shocking violence that affects nearly every
community in the Golden State.
Transnational criminal organizations are self-perpetuating associations operating across
national borders that use violence, corruption, and fraud to protect and disguise their
illicit, profit-driven activities. This Report examines how these groups – with roots in
places around the globe – have flocked to California to engage in an increasingly
diverse range of criminal activities.
Chapter One looks into the varying nature of transnational criminal organizations,
ranging in size and sophistication from corporation-like drug cartels and extremely
violent transnational gangs to Internet-based hacking and financial fraud rings. These
organizations are incredibly fluid and adaptive, and their profit-motivated operations
run the gamut from traditional crimes – such as narcotics, weapons, or human
trafficking – to complex money laundering schemes and specialized cybercrimes.
Like parasites, transnational criminal organizations whose operations extend into
California thrive by exploiting their host’s strengths. California’s economy – a global
leader owing to its shared border with Mexico and its status as a gateway for
trade between the U.S. and East Asia – attracts hard-working immigrants from around
the world and maintains highways and high-speed data networks that speed the
flow of goods, people, and information throughout the state. Chapter Two explains
how transnational criminal organizations have taken advantage of these factors in
an attempt to transform California into a center of transnational organized crime.
California is the nation’s largest portal not only for drugs and human trafficking victims
flowing into the U.S., but also for weapons and the laundered proceeds of illicit
activity smuggled out of the U.S. – often through the very same trafficking routes.
i
The harm done by transnational criminal organizations to communities all across
California is hard to overstate. Not only do these organizations threaten public
health by driving the supply and distribution of harmful narcotics, but their alliances
with violent prison and street gangs (a trend addressed at length in Chapter Three)
have sparked a rash of violence in a period of otherwise declining criminal activity.
Moreover, the substantial amount of illicit money moving through California’s
economy threatens the security of the state’s financial institutions, local businesses,
and communities, with an estimated $30 to $40 billion in illicit funds laundered
through California commerce every year.
Transnational criminal organizations are increasingly taking advantage of new
communications technology and the interconnectedness of the globalized world to
further their trafficking activities in California. This creates new challenges for law
enforcement, a topic explored in Chapter Four. But transnational organized crime
in California extends beyond drugs, weapons, and human trafficking. In the 21st
century, the problem posed by transnational criminal organizations threatens the
security of computer and data networks, the integrity of online bank accounts, and
the rights of intellectual property holders. By virtue of its population and knowledgepowered economy, California is the top target in the nation for this new generation
of transnational criminal organizations – originating in significant numbers from
Eastern Europe, but also Africa and China – whose purpose is to commit highly
profitable hacking, fraud, and digital piracy crimes. This emerging cybersecurity
threat is discussed in Chapter Five.
Recognizing the significant threat posed to California’s economy and people by
transnational criminal organizations, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris assembled
a team of researchers, policy analysts, and law enforcement officials to identify the
challenges these organizations create and to formulate recommendations to combat them
in California most effectively (Chapter Six). This report is based on dozens of interviews
with law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and policy experts, an in-depth review of state
task force data, and research and investigation by the California Department of Justice.
Highlights of the 2014 Report
• Mexico-based transnational criminal organizations are suspected of trafficking 70
percent of the U.S. supply of methamphetamine through the San Diego port of entry
alone, making California the primary source for methamphetamine nationwide. In
2013, border authorities seized over 6,200 kilograms of methamphetamine entering
California, a three-fold increase since 2009.
• The Sinaloa Federation cartel has emerged from the fragmented Mexican drug
market as the dominant Mexico-based drug trafficking organization operating in
ii
California. Sinaloa is now responsible for trafficking the vast majority of Mexicoproduced marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine through the Tijuana
corridor into California.
• The public safety threat posed by Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations
has been amplified as cartels have formed alliances with California prison and
streetgangs to control trafficking routes, distribute drugs, and kidnap, extort,
and kill as necessary to protect their criminal activities. The Mexican Mafia, for
example, provides protection for members of numerous cartels both inside and
outside prison, and various Hispanic Sureño and Norteño gangs in Southern and
Northern California have teamed up with Sinaloa, La Familia Michoacana, The
Knights Templar, and other Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations.
• With gang membership up 40 percent nationally between 2009 and 2011,
California has seen higher levels of violent crime (particularly assault, extortion,
home invasion robberies, homicide, intimidation, and shootings), as well as an
increase in arrests for human trafficking offenses and significant seizures of drugs,
weapons, and cash.
•
Transnational criminal organizations are taking advantage of new communications
technologies and social media to facilitate criminal activity, recruit new members,
and intimidate or harass their rivals – even from inside prison walls. In 2011, for
example, over 15,000 cell phones were seized from inmates in California prisons.
•
Recent increases in the use of panga boats to smuggle drugs and people into
California exemplify the constant tactical adaptation by transnational criminal
organizations. Boats capable of carrying 12 tons of marijuana have landed as
far north as Santa Cruz County, with a steady increase in panga sightings and landings throughout the Central Coast.
• Between 2009 and 2012, the number of intentional breaches of computer networks and databases in the U.S. jumped by 280 percent, with California’s
share leading the nation. Many of these breaches have been tied to
transnational criminal organizations operating from Russia, Ukraine, Romania,
Israel, Egypt, China, and Nigeria, among other places.
• In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, California state drug task forces disrupted or
dismantled 140 drug, money-laundering and gang organizations, arrested nearly
3,000 individuals, rescued 41 drug-endangered children, confiscated 1,000
weapons,and seized nearly $28.5 million in U.S. currency in anti-narcotic law
enforcement actions statewide. Federally-sponsored High Intensity Drug Trafficking
Areas (“HIDTA”) program task forces also identified 305 drug-related transnational
iii
criminal organizations operating in California, and 18 street and prison gangs
with ties to these organizations.
•
At the same time, state-led task forces charged with protecting California from
transnational criminal organizations have suffered severe budget reductions over the last five years, with the number of operating task forces dropping from 55 in 2011 to just 17 in 2013.
Summary of Recommendations
Trafficking
•
The Legislature should amend California law to target the leaders of
transnational criminal organizations operating in California: California does not
currently have any statutes that specifically target or punish supervisors, managers,
or financers operating on behalf of transnational criminal organizations. California
should fill this statutory void by enacting legislation similar to the federal Continuing
Criminal Enterprise Act to directly attack the leadership of these organizations.
• Federal, state, and local law enforcement should use California’s State Threat
Assessment System as a central hub for sharing information about transnational
crime: California presently lacks a unified system for collecting, analyzing, and
sharing information regarding transnational organized crime. California’s State
Threat Assessment System (STAS) is uniquely positioned to act as that central hub
for California’s transnational crime information-sharing needs. In coordination with
the Attorney General’s Office, California’s tribal, local, state, and federal law
enforcement agencies should partner with STAS to share information about transnational criminal organizations across the state.
• Federal, state, and local authorities should establish a unified maritime task
force and associated radar network to counter maritime smuggling operations
along California’s coastline: While several regional partnerships and a federal
task force exist to address maritime smuggling operations along California’s
coast, California needs a multi-jurisdictional Maritime Task Force – that leverages
expertise at the federal, state, and local levels – to combat the threat posed by
panga vessel smuggling. California should also work with Coast Guard Officials
to implement a network of high-intensity radar stations or sonar buoys strategically
located along the coast to better detect maritime threats and coordinate law
enforcement responses.
• The Legislature and Governor should fund five additional Special Operations
Units across California: The increasingly sophisticated nature of transnational
criminal organizations demands an equally sophisticated and coordinated
iv
response from law enforcement. The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of
Narcotics Enforcement, and related task forces and special operations units, were
remarkably successful in targeting and dismantling transnational organized crime
cells in California before severe budget cutbacks in 2011 limited their operational
capacity. Restoring funding to special operations units in Sacramento, San Francisco,
Riverside, Los Angeles, and San Diego is a necessary step in the fight against
transnational organized crime in California.
• The federal government should continue providing critical funding to support state
and local law enforcement agencies in investigating and dismantling trafficking
organizations: In particular, Congress should maintain and increase funding levels for methamphetamine law enforcement grants through the U.S. Department of
Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office. Additionally, the
California Board of State and Community Corrections, which administers federal
law enforcement grants from the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program, should
restore the allocation of these funds to joint state-local task forces.
•
Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies should increase operational
coordination in combatting transnational criminal organizations: Given the
international scope of these trafficking networks, federal, state, and local law
enforcement agencies in California must work together – at the investigatory and
prosecutorial levels – to combat major transnational criminal organizations and their alliances with prison and street gangs.
High-Tech Crimes
• State and local authorities should develop public-private partnerships to
leverage technology against transnational organized crime: As the frequent
target of transnational criminal schemes, the private sector is at the frontline
defending against numerous high-tech threats. It is not surprising that it often has
access to information and technologies that the government does not. By forming
public-private partnerships, state and local authorities can leverage the private
sector’s comparative strengths to counter the ever-changing threats and tactics of
transnational criminal organizations.
• Businesses should adopt industry best practices designed to protect against
cybercrime: Lax cybersecurity practices, or the lack of any protections whatsoever,
allow far too many breaches of computer networks and databases to happen in
California. All entities, public and private, doing business in California should
assume that they are a target and defend themselves accordingly by adopting
the industry best practices identified in the Department of Justice’s recently released
report, Cybersecurity in the Golden State (http://oag.ca.gov/cybersecurity).
v
Money Laundering
• The Legislature should amend California law to enable prosecutors to
temporarily freeze the assets of transnational criminal organizations and
their gang associates before the filing of an indictment: Under current law,
transnational criminal organizations are often given the equivalent of advance
warning that their criminal proceeds and assets are about to be seized by
law enforcement. That is because of a legal void that prevents the seizure of
any assets until the filing of a formal criminal indictment. As a result, in cases
where illicit assets are discovered before an indictment can be filed, criminals
have the chance to remove their assets before they can be taken. This loophole
must be eliminated by empowering law enforcement to temporarily freeze an
organization’s illicit proceeds or property in advance of a formal prosecution.
• The Legislature should strengthen California’s prohibition against financial
transaction “structuring”: When it comes to proving that a financial transaction
was “structured” to evade financial reporting requirements, California law imposes
a special burden on prosecutors that federal law does not. To prove “structuring”
under California law, prosecutors must show not only that transactions were
organized to avoid mandatory reporting requirements, but also that such structuring
was intended to disguise proceeds from illicit activities. This special burden on state
and local prosecutors hampers the ability to disrupt money laundering schemes and
should be eliminated.
• California prosecutors need advanced training to combat sophisticated
transnational money laundering schemes: At the same time that budget reductions
have curtailed investigatory and prosecutorial capacities, transnational criminal
organizations are becoming more and more sophisticated in how they launder
their illicit profits. A key to disrupting this sophisticated criminal activity is through
equally sophisticated and aggressive prosecutions. Advanced training and
technical assistance to state and local prosecutors investigating and prosecuting
complex money laundering schemes is vital to building the capacity to bring
these prosecutions.
• State authorities should partner with their Mexican counterparts to share
intelligence and disrupt the illicit flow of money across the border: The ease
with which large sums of money can be whisked across borders has never been
greater. For this reason, it is critical that investigators and regulatory officials on
both sides of the border have the most up-to-date information about cross-border
currency flows and the people behind them and cooperate in disrupting money
laundering schemes.
vi
Introduction
Transnational organized crime in California is as diverse as it is complex. It involves a
range of profit-motivated criminal activities perpetrated by an ever-increasing array of
transnational criminal organizations, located both within California and abroad. These
organizations have taken advantage of the technological revolution of the last two
decades, as well as advancements in trade, transport, and global money transfers, to
substantially increase the scale and profitability of their criminal activities in California.1
Unlike the large, hierarchically-organized international crime groups of the late
1980s and early 1990s, such as the well-known Medellín or Cali drug cartels,
modern transnational criminal organizations are incredibly fluid and adaptive,
and have diversified their criminal enterprises. Transnational criminal organizations
varying in size, scope, and influence have now established a presence in virtually
every one of California’s major urban areas, as well as many smaller cities. They
present a real and significant statewide threat to the economic and social fabric
of California.
Their profit-driven operations run the gamut from more traditional crimes – such as
narcotics, weapons, and human trafficking (the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit
a victim for profit) – to complex money laundering schemes and sophisticated computer
attacks designed to steal personal information and money (Figure 1). These crimes, and
the transnational criminal organizations orchestrating them, exploit millions of Americans
and impose costs estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually.2
Transnational criminal organizations are also constantly altering their illicit capabilities,
refining and adapting their tactics in response to enhanced local, state, and federal law
enforcement interdiction efforts.
Throughout this Report, we make reference to these groups and their criminal conduct
in various ways – as “transnational gangs,” “transnational criminal organizations,” or
the shorthand “TCOs,” as well as “transnational organized crime.” There is no singular
or exclusive domestic or international definition of a transnational criminal organization
and, in fact, the success these groups have enjoyed is due in part to the ambiguity of
their organizational structures. However, transnational criminal organizations possess
many common traits and Chapter One of this Report discusses those commonalities.
vii
Figure 1
Transnational Organized Crime in California
The Report is a broad review of transnational criminal activity in California. We analyze
four types of transnational criminal organizations active in California (Mexico-based drug
cartels, Asian and Eastern European transnational criminal groups, transnational gangs,
and Internet-based hacking and fraud rings) and explore their operations in trafficking
(drugs, human beings, and weapons), money laundering, and high-tech crime. At their
core, the criminal operations conducted by these organizations all have international and
domestic dimensions, directly impacting California and its residents.
viii
Chapter One
Transnational Criminal Organizations –
Structure and Operations
As defined by the National Security Council, transnational criminal organizations are selfperpetuating associations operating across national borders that use violence and corruption, and exploit transnational commerce and communications, to protect and disguise their
illicit, profit-driven activities.3 These organizations utilize a number of different organizational
structures, including hierarchies, clans, networks, and cells, with many transnational criminal
organizations evolving and adapting over time due to changing circumstances.4 They may
be tied together by ethnicity, territory, or even personal relationships, or they may share a
focus on particular segments
of the illicit marketplace.5
Figure 2
TCO Hot Spots in California
Transnational criminal
organizations have a
presence in virtually every major urban area in
California, as well as in
many smaller cities around
the state. From South to
North, transnational criminal organizations of varying types have permeated
and penetrated California,
finding a foothold throughout the state (Figure 2).
Source: CA State Threat Assessment Center (2014)
1
Transnational Criminal Organizations in California: Four Key
Organizational Structures
1. The Rise of Mexico-Based Drug Cartels
The dominant organizational structure of transnational criminal organizations operating
in California is the corporation-like drug trafficking organization. These organizations
are commonly referred to as “cartels,” so we will use the terms interchangeably. Traditionally, these large cartels had rigid hierarchical structures, but analysts have identified
a general trend in recent years toward decentralized cells controlled by a governing
body as the “nerve center.”6
The primary cartel-like transnational criminal organizations active in California are
Mexico-based transnational criminal organizations (commonly referred to as “Mexican
drug trafficking organizations”). Though Mexican drug trafficking organizations have
been in operation for more than a century, the last 20 years have witnessed a profound change in the operation and control of the key trafficking routes to the United
States. The associated emergence of these organizations has been described as “the
greatest organizational drug threat to the nation.”7
Following the dismantlement of the Medellín and Cali drug cartels by the Colombian
government in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the highly-profitable cocaine trafficking
routes to the United States were taken over by Mexican drug trafficking organizations,
particularly the Tijuana cartel (controlled by the Arellano Félix family and also known
as the Arellano Félix Organization) and the Juárez cartel (operated by the Carrillo
Fuentes family).8 However, in 2000, the administration of Mexican President Vincente
Fox, in consultation with the U.S. government, began to target high-level operatives –
first in the Tijuana cartel, and then in the Juárez cartel – that resulted in the capture or
death of several Félix and Fuentes family members.9 While successful in many respects,
this crackdown also resulted in fragmentation of the Mexican drug trafficking market,
leading to increased violence, not only between the larger drug trafficking
organizations and the government, but also among smaller “cartelitos” vying for a
share of the drug trafficking industry.
Out of this power vacuum, the Mexico-based drug trafficking organization known as
the Sinaloa Federation has emerged as the dominant transnational criminal organization operating in California. Sinaloa – whose roots can be traced back to the breakup
of the Guadalajara cartel in the 1980s – is now responsible for the vast majority of
drug, weapons, and human trafficking across the California-Mexico border.10
Sinaloa and other Mexican drug cartels are adapting their corporate structures to better
leverage existing resources and alliances and expand the financial and geographic
scope of their enterprise. For example, Sinaloa – which has allied with the Gulf cartel,
2
Los Caballeros Templarios, and the Arellano Félix Organization – has adopted a
decentralized, less-hierarchical structure, whereby leadership directs peripheral
lieutenants to carry out operations in a “hub and spoke” manner.11
This “federation” of Sinaloa-affiliated cells, developed by the cartel’s recently-arrested
leader, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, allows Sinaloa to maintain a presence in at
least 17 Mexican states and 50 other countries throughout North, Central, and South
America, Australia, Europe, Southeast Asia, and West Africa, with each subgroup
enjoying significant autonomy in its business operations and ability to retain profits.12
Sinaloa is particularly active in Southern California, where it coordinates with Hispanic
Sureño street gangs to distribute narcotics. The expansion of Sureño gang territories
has also allowed the cartel to expand its influence to Northern California (notably, the
San Jose area) and into neighboring states like Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona (Figure
3).13 This ever-increasing zone of influence has caused friction with existing regional
gangs that had previously controlled trafficking routes, resulting in threats of violence,
homicides, kidnappings, and extortion.14
Figure 3
Sinaloa Presence in California
3
The Sinaloa Cartel: An Uncertain Future
Analysts trying to explain Sinaloa’s rise over the past decade have argued that
Sinaloa leaders received preferential treatment from the Mexican government while
rivals were targeted. The Mexican government has strongly denied this claim. Others
have suggested that Sinaloa took advantage of a Mexican government hotline
intended to boost intelligence gathering on drug trafficking organizations in order to
report the actions and locations of Sinaloa’s rivals. While the July 15, 2013 arrest
of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, the leader of Sinaloa’s main rival, Los Zetas, lent
some credence to this theory, the recent crackdown on Sinaloa’s senior leaders
suggests that any preferential treatment has come to an end.
The most significant event in this regard was the arrest of
Sinaloa’s leader, Joaqúin “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera. In
the early morning hours of February 22, 2014, Mexican
authorities arrested Guzmán in the Mexican resort city of
Mazatlan. Since his 2001 escape from a Mexican prison,
Guzmán had been the chief executive of Mexico’s most
powerful drug cartel and held the dubious distinction of
being on both the annual Forbes list of billionaires and
the D.E.A.’s “Most Wanted” list. He is named in federal
drug trafficking indictments in California, New York,
Illinois, and Texas, and faces charges in Mexico related
to his 2001 escape and subsequent criminal activity.
Guzmán’s arrest followed the takedown of several top
Sinaloa operatives in late 2013 and early 2014, including the arrests of 10 mid-level
cartel members in February 2014 alone. Information gleaned from those arrests
led to the capture of Guzmán, who had been suspected of moving covertly between
seven homes in Mazatlan through a series of underground tunnels connected to the
city’s sewer system.
While it is not immediately clear what impact the arrest will have on Sinaloa’s
operations, some experts predict that, in the short term, the cartel will continue
business as usual, with Guzmán’s partners, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada and Juan
Jose “El Azul” Esparragoza-Moreno, likely stepping into his role. Professor Pamela
Starr of the University of Southern California, who studies U.S.-Mexico relations,
doubts that Guzmán’s arrest will cause significant operational upheaval in the short
term. “Guzmán has been on the run for years, so it is unlikely he was still running
Sinaloa’s day-to-day operations.” The future, however, is less certain. Starr predicts
that Sinaloa’s difficulty will be establishing a long-term leadership structure after El
4
Mayo and El Azul cycle through as transitional heads. Smaller drug trafficking
organizations currently under the Sinaloa umbrella might try to
establish their independence and grow their territory. For these reasons, Starr
hypothesizes that “this is the beginning of the end for Sinaloa – how long it takes
and how it happens remains to be seen.”
The speculation about Sinaloa’s possible decline raises the additional possibility of
increased violence. Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, is concerned about a fragmented Mexican drug market – as occurred after
the Mexican government’s crackdown on the Tijuana and Juarez cartels in the
early 2000s – in which organizations vie for control of Sinaloa’s previously
untouchable drug routes. While large cartels like Los Zetas – which suffered a
decline following years of fighting the Sinaloa cartel, other rivals, and the Mexican
government – are believed to lack the operational capacity or appetite for a
powerplay, Felbab-Brown warns that drug-related violence will increase if smaller
cartelitos see Guzman’s arrest as an opportunity to grow their enterprises.
Regardless of what might follow, both Starr and Felbab-Brown praise Guzmán’s
capture and what it symbolizes in the global effort to tackle transnational organized crime.
Sources: June S. Beittel, Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of
the Violence, Congressional Research Service (April 15, 2013), pp. 9, 11-12; Vanda
Felbab-Brown, Calderon’s Caldron (Sept. 2011), Latin America Initiative at Brookings,
p. 3; Alicia A. Caldwell & Katherine Corcoran, Mexico’s Sinaloa Drug Chief Arrested,
Associated Press (Feb. 22, 2014); Interview with Vanda Felbab-Brown (Feb. 24, 2014);
Interview with Prof. Pamela Starr (Feb. 24, 2014); U.S. Department of Justice.
2. Asian and Eastern European Transnational Criminal Groups
Another type of transnational criminal organization is formed when criminals based
abroad attempt to partner with their counterparts in U.S. immigrant communities in order
to exploit access to U.S. markets and wealth. The result is a loose transnational confederation between a criminal ring abroad and an autonomous ring here in the U.S.,
tied together along ethnic lines. While much still remains unknown about these groups,
many of them operate in California, which is home to large immigrant communities from
around the world and a quarter of all immigrants who have come to the U.S.15
Eurasian transnational criminal groups arising from the 15 republics of the former Soviet
Union and from central European countries maintain an active California presence in
5
areas including Burbank, Fresno, Glendale, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, and
San Francisco. Known for their sophistication and violence, groups like Armenian Power
are linked to cybercrime, financial fraud (such as identity theft and credit card crimes),
auto theft, illegal gambling, and narcotics and human trafficking.16
Additionally, once confined to just a handful of urban areas with large Asian-American
populations, Asian transnational criminal confederations, such as those involving the Tiny
Rascal Gang and Asian Boyz, are expanding to communities in Fresno, Los Angeles,
Orange, Sacramento, Santa Clara, and San Diego Counties where the growth in the
number of new immigrants from Asia has been greatest. These criminal organizations
engage in human and sex trafficking, drug and weapons smuggling, domestic marijuana
cultivation, various forms of cybercrime, and even wildlife trafficking.17
Although tied together along ethnic lines, these confederations show little affection for
those who share their ethnic identity when deciding whom to target. Indeed, immigrants
who share ethnic ties with these criminal organizations are arguably the most vulnerable to victimization. For example, Armenian Power frequently targets members of the
Armenian-American community for fraud and extortion, as it did in one Southern California
fraud scheme described in Chapter Five. The special vulnerability of many immigrant
communities underscores the urgent need for law enforcement to better understand Asian
and Eastern European transnational criminal groups so that they can better protect some
of California’s most vulnerable citizens and residents.
3.Proliferation of Transnational Gangs
Transnational gangs are criminal street gangs operating in the U.S. with ties to gangs of
the same ethnicity or nationality, or within the same umbrella gang, operating in other
countries. They are linked to the prolific use of violence or the threat of violence to further
their illicit activities in California. Like Mexico-based transnational criminal organizations,
transnational gangs have exploited the benefits of an interconnected world to expand
their increasingly sophisticated criminal activities to a global scale. While still principally
engaged in narcotics trafficking (although on a smaller scale than Mexico-based drug
trafficking organizations), these gangs deeply involve themselves in crimes ranging from
money laundering and robbery to extortion and contract killings, as well as emerging
crimes like intellectual property fraud and human trafficking. In addition to these profitdriven activities, transnational gangs perpetrate acts of violence to establish their
reputation and status in California communities.
Transnational gangs vary in organizational sophistication, though they predominately
follow a “hub and spoke” model, with a hierarchical, central point directing regional
“clique” or “clica” leadership. They are increasingly working with other transnational
criminal organizations, as well as California street and prison gangs (a dangerous union
6
examined in Chapter 3), and are coordinating their criminal activities across both state
and international lines. The primary transnational gangs operating in California are:
• Mara Salvatrucha (or the shorthand “MS-13”): MS-13 is the largest and most violent transnational gang currently operating in California and has been recognized
by the U.S. Department of Treasury as a transnational criminal organization. Originally founded in Los Angeles during the 1980s by Salvadoran immigrants, MS-13
began as an ethnic, protection-oriented street gang. A growing Salvadoran immigrant membership, coupled with mass deportations to Central America in
the 1990s of MS-13 members convicted of certain crimes, helped transform this
group into a transnational gang. According to recent U.N. estimates, MS-13 is
now one of the world’s fastest growing criminal organizations, with an international
membership of at least 30,000, including 8,000 members in El Salvador, 7,000
in Honduras, and 5,000 in Guatemala.18
• 18th Street Gang: Another large criminal street gang, the 18th Street Gang was
formed by Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles around 1959, with many members
later deported in the 1990s to Mexico and Central American countries. Despite
their similarities, the 18th Street Gang, sometimes referred to as M-18 or Barrio
18, is an historic rival of MS-13.
The 18th Street Gang is a large organization with an international membership
well over 30,000. According to U.N. estimates, 14,000 to 17,000 members are
based in Guatemala, 8,000 to 10,000 live in El Salvador, and another 5,000
reside in Honduras.19 Membership numbers in the U.S. are well into the thousands
and cliques in different countries frequently collaborate or form alliances opportunistically. Similar to MS-13, the 18th Street Gang’s domestic operations are based in
California, with the majority of their operations in the greater Los Angeles or Southern California region (although operations have also been observed in northern
California). Gang members also maintain close relationships with Mexico-based
transnational criminal organizations.
4. The Online Criminals: Transnational Hacking, Fraud, and
Pirating Rings
With the rise of a global society connected by the Internet, criminal rings organized to
commit hacking, fraud, pirating and other high-tech crimes across borders have rapidly
proliferated. These rings operate frequently from Eastern Europe, but also from places
as diverse as West Africa and China, and specifically target the citizens, computer
networks, and companies of prosperous countries like the U.S. They vary widely in
size, sometimes partnering with “locals” in the target country. Just as often, however,
they feel little need to form local partnerships, since the Internet allows them to oper-
7
ate remotely, and a lack of a physical presence in the country they are targeting helps
them more easily evade detection and criminal prosecution.
Like other transnational criminal organizations, transnational hacking, fraud, and pirating rings are profit-driven. But unlike cartels and gangs, these rings do not commonly
employ fear, violence, and terror as tools in their arsenal. Instead, their success hinges
on operating anonymously and surreptitiously, relying on sophisticated tactics to steal
information, harvest money, and move money across jurisdictions into their own bank
accounts.
Conclusion
Transnational criminal organizations have used their adaptability and fluid organizational structures to expand their networks of criminal activity to every corner of
California. Mexican drug cartels, particularly Sinaloa, have been most successful in
embedding themselves into the fabric of our urban communities by forming alliances
with prison and street gangs for protection and distribution of illicit goods. However,
transnational gangs and other organized criminal rings also pose serious threats to the
physical and financial well-being of Californians.
8
Chapter Two
California: A Hub for Transnational
Criminal Activity
California is a global leader on a number of fronts and, unfortunately, transnational criminal
activity is one of them (Figure 4). In 2012 alone, 305 drug-related transnational criminal organizations were found operating in the state, including Mexico-based drug cartels in at least
22 cities from Northern California to the southern border.20 Based in part on its population
and network of interstate highways connecting the western U.S., California is a major portal
through which drugs flow to other U.S. states and cities, as well as Canada. California is also
the top state in the U.S. for human trafficking, due in part to its proximity to the U.S. southwest
border, robust economy, and large immigrant population.21 Finally, with a gross domestic
product of $2 trillion and substantial international trade activity, California’s economic and
financial infrastructure is often targeted for transnational criminal money laundering schemes.
Figure 4
Impact of Transnational Criminal Organizations in California
9
Drug Trafficking Is the Most Profitable Transnational Criminal
Activity in California
Mexico-based drug cartels generate billions of dollars annually by trafficking drugs into
California, both for sale within the state and as a staging base for distribution around
the country. As shown below in Figure 5, the distribution routes traditionally follow major
interstate highways, which are the most efficient routes to California’s major urban areas.
Typically, narcotics flow from San Diego to Los Angeles, where they can either continue
up the Interstate Highway 5 to the Bay Area and Sacramento or move eastward to various distribution points in the U.S. or Canada.
Figure 5
Primary Narcotics Trafficking Routes in California (2014)
Source: CA State Threat Assessment Center
Transnational Criminal Organizations Traffic Processed Marijuana
Marijuana continues to be the most commonly trafficked and used narcotic in California.22
As the Drug Enforcement Administration recently observed in its 2013 National Drug
10
Threat Assessment, Mexican drug trafficking organizations such as the Sinaloa cartel
continue to operate large outdoor marijuana growing fields in Mexico.
However, in response to interdiction efforts at the border, Mexican-based drug cartels are
increasingly growing marijuana on public land in California. This is forcing California to
contend with not only marijuana smuggled into the state, but also with marijuana grown
in California for distribution to other parts of the U.S. where prices tend to be higher.23
In June 2013, following a month-long investigation by special agents of the California Department of Justice, officials arrested four suspected Sureño gang members in
Sacramento County and seized more than 7,000 marijuana plants and 100 pounds
of processed marijuana with an estimated street value of $2 million.24
Figure 6
Counties with Task Force Seizures of Processed Marijuana
in Excess of 1,000 Pounds
(FY 2012-2013)
Shasta
1,800
Mendocino
7,781
Glenn
1,200
Sacramento
4,206
Merced
3,068
Madera
12,087
Fresno
1,090
Ventura
1,200
Los Angeles
43,090
11
In the 2012-2013 fiscal year (from the beginning of July to the end of June), the central
and southern parts of California accounted for the vast majority of processed marijuana
seizures. Los Angeles County alone accounted for 54 percent (or 43,090 pounds) of
statewide seizures.
Outdoor Marijuana Fields and Sophisticated Indoor
Production Operations
The outdoor production of marijuana takes place primarily on public land in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys, including within California’s national forests, and
creates a host of problems within the state. Worker exploitation is common, as the
growing areas are often operated by Mexican nationals who are smuggled into the
country and then forced to work to pay off a smuggling debt.25 In addition, outdoor
marijuana fields produce significant environmental harms stemming from growers’ use
of pesticides, rodenticides, and fertilizers on the crops to expedite the growing process
and protect the crops from insects or wild animals.26 Fires are also a threat particularly
associated with outdoor cultivation. In August 2009, suspected Mexican drug trafficking organization workers tending to a 30,000-plant marijuana field in the Los Padres
National Forest near Santa Barbara sparked a 136-square mile fire.27
In 2012-2013, Northern and Central California represented the most significant hot
spots for outdoor marijuana cultivation. Of almost 1.5 million plants seized by state
and local law enforcement in 2012-2013, the top five counties accounted for over 45
percent of the total statewide seizures.
Figure 7
Task Force Seizures of Outdoor Marijuana
Counties With Most Seized Outdoor Marijuana (FY 2012-2013)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Sacramento
Madera
Tulare
Shasta
Fresno
Statewide Total
12
181,541
139,238
129,899
124,477
93,476
plants
plants
plants
plants
plants
1,470,748 plants
Regional Impact: “The Inland Empire”
The Central Valley remained the primary hot spot for outdoor marijuana cultivation,
accounting for a staggering $7.52 billion in outdoor marijuana seizures. But the
Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties), though not ranked among the
most impacted counties, outpaced seizures in other traditional outdoor marijuana hot
spots such as the “Emerald Triangle” (Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity Counties):
“Emerald Triangle”: 86,213 plants seized
“Inland Empire”:
142,515 plants seized
In response to demand for high-grade marijuana (which can sell for up to 30 times the
price of low-grade marijuana), Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations, as well as
Asian organized crime groups, are growing increasing amounts of high-grade marijuana in indoor facilities in Alameda, Santa Clara, San Benito and Merced counties, and
in Mexico. The state is also experiencing heavy indoor marijuana cultivation activity in
the Bay Area, which law enforcement has attributed to the growing presence of Asian
transnational criminal organizations like the Asian Warriors.28 The top six counties
account for approximately 80 percent of statewide totals, with Alameda, Santa Clara,
and San Benito counties making up three of these jurisdictions.
Figure 8
Task Force Seizures of Indoor Marijuana
Counties With Most Seized Indoor Marijuana (FY 2012-2013)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Shasta
Mendocino
Merced
Alameda
Santa Clara
San Benito
Statewide Total
11,138
5,211
4,155
3,541
3,153
2,937
plants
plants
plants
plants
plants
plants
37,949 plants
13
Transnational Criminal Organization Methamphetamine Trafficking
Is on the Rise in California
California has also witnessed an increase in recent years in the availability of wholesale
methamphetamine, particularly its most potent form, “ice,” with the Sinaloa cartel driving
supply.29 California is now the primary source for methamphetamine nationwide with
as much as 70 percent of the U.S. foreign supply of methamphetamine being trafficked
through the San Diego point of entry alone.30 Mexican drug trafficking organizations
obtain multi-ton shipments of precursor chemicals, such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, from countries without strict chemical export regulations, like China or India.
They then produce increasing amounts of methamphetamine in large “superlabs” inside
Mexico,31 a substantial percentage of which is destined for California.
On October 8, 2013, agents from the Department of Justice-run Inland Crackdown
Allied Task Force arrested four suspected members of La Familia Michoacána in
San Bernardino County after seizing more than 100 pounds of methamphetamine,
9 pounds of cocaine, and half a pound of heroin. The street value of these narcotics
totaled nearly $6 million.32 Officials alleged that transnational criminal organization members imported the drugs from Mexico and then distributed them to street
gang dealers in California and other states.
La Familia Michoacána (LFM)
With historic roots in Michoacán, Mexico, where it began as a vigilante group, this Mexican
drug trafficking organization is known for its use of extreme violence and pseudo-religious
propaganda to justify its criminal activities. Prior to the recent establishment of Sinaloa’s
near monopoly on the U.S. illicit drug market, LFM was mainly associated with large-scale
methamphetamine trafficking in California’s Central Valley as well as outdoor public land
marijuana fields in national forests throughout the state. However, due in part to the reported December 10, 2010, death of LFM’s main leader, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, in
a two-day firefight with the Mexican Federal Police, LFM has been significantly weakened
in both Mexico and California.
Source: June S. Beittel, Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the
Violence, Congressional Research Service (Apr. 15, 2013), pp. 17-18.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s National Methamphetamine
and Pharmaceuticals Initiative, seizures of methamphetamine at points of entry along
the U.S. southwest border have increased steadily over the past four years. As noted in
Figure 9, methamphetamine seizures at California points of entry have more than
tripled between 2009 and 2013 and now dwarf seizures in our sister border states.
14
Figure 9
Southwest Border Methamphetamine Seizures at Points of Entry (Kilograms)
(2009-2013)
7000
6000
5000
4000
California
Arizona
3000
South Texas
2000
1000
0
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
Source: CA State Threat Assessment Center (data from Office of National Drug Control Policy, National
Methamphetamine and Pharmaceuticals Initiative)
Once “ice” has been smuggled into the state, two counties are now the destinations of
choice for distribution. In 2012-2013, Los Angeles County in the south and Merced
County in the Central Valley accounted for more than 66 percent of the “ice” seized in
California (Figure 10).
Figure 10
Task Force Seizures of Ice
Counties With Most Seized Ice (FY 2012-2013)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Los Angeles
Merced
Fresno
Riverside
Orange
San Mateo
Statewide Total
1,605
475
206
196
177
177
lbs.
lbs.
lbs.
lbs.
lbs.
lbs.
3,146 lbs.
15
In other schemes, transnational criminal organization operatives refine methamphetamine in labs here in California, a majority of which can be found in the Central
Valley. As with the cultivation of marijuana, these methamphetamine labs can cause
severe environmental damage by contaminating manufacturing locations with hazardous
chemicals. But meth labs pose an additional risk as well: they expose Californians to
the potential for explosions due to the hazardous, often flammable, chemicals used to
make methamphetamine. For example, in March 2012, officers in search of a stolen
Apple iPad entered a San Jose apartment33 only to discover it was being used as a
“refining lab” by a suspected Mexico-based transnational criminal organization to
convert unrefined methamphetamine into the highly dangerous crystal methamphetamine.34 Subsequent testing revealed extensive contamination of both the apartment
and adjacent residential units, which required substantial decontamination efforts.35
The rise in methamphetamine trafficking by drug cartels reinforces the need for robust
funding for law enforcement. In this regard, federal funding is critical. In the
Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (Public Law No. 113-76), Congress
approved Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations totaling $7.5 million toward the creation
of a methamphetamine grant program. This timely and innovative program – which
will be administered by the Community Oriented Policing Services Office in the U.S.
Department of Justice – provides for competitive grants to state law enforcement agencies
to combat methamphetamine production and trafficking in their states. The California
Attorney General’s Office and other state and national law enforcement leaders –
including those from Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and the
National Narcotic Officers’ Association Coalition – developed and advocated for the
program’s creation. And with the support and leadership of California’s congressional
delegation, states received a critical federal funding stream to further fight the drug cartels’ lucrative methamphetamine trafficking trade. For California, this grant opportunity
comes at an important time when an aggressive law enforcement response is vital to
effectively combatting transnational criminal organizations.
Trafficking of Prescription Drugs Across the California-Mexico Border Has
Increased, While Cocaine Trafficking Has Decreased
As prescription drug abuse becomes one of the fastest growing drug problems in California and across the country, law enforcement officials have observed an increase in the
trafficking of pharmaceutical drugs (such as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Ritalin, Xanax,
Morphine, Alprazolam, Diazepam, and Benzodiazepine) across the California-Mexico
border.36 In some of these schemes, Mexican pharmacies fill prescriptions without a
legitimate prescription and the drugs are smuggled into California. The drugs are then
packaged and shipped via commercial mail services, frequently to customers who
ordered the drugs over the Internet.37 In recent years, border agents have seen an uptick
in seizure incidents involving prescription drugs.
16
On September 11, 2012, border agents seized 637 Hydrocodone tablets, 198
Oxycodone tablets, 120 Ritalin tablets, 56 Morphine tablets, and $1,406 in U.S.
currency when they stopped two women at the San Ysidro border crossing.38 The
women admitted that they were working with a Mexico-based transnational criminal organization that took orders over the Internet for prescription drugs, smuggled
them from Tijuana to San Diego, and then shipped them throughout the U.S.39
Such seizures have become commonplace.40
In other schemes, stolen or illegally-acquired prescription drugs are smuggled out of
California to Mexican pharmacies for distribution by drug trafficking organizations in
Mexico or back to the U.S. market.41
In August, 2011, officials broke up such a ring with the arrest of 15 individuals
operating a large U.S.-Mexico drug trafficking organization.42 The group would
acquire wholesale quantities of controlled pharmaceutical drugs such as OxyContin
and Hydrocodone, and smuggle them to Mexico for sale. The cash was then brought
back into the United States to finance criminal operations.43 Border stops throughout
the two-year investigation resulted in the seizure of 1,288 OxyContin pills, 9,500
Hydrocodone pills, and more than $66,000 in U.S. currency.44
While these narco-trafficking trends reflect a growing diversification of transnational criminal
organizations, California has experienced a decline in the trafficking of cocaine into the
state. Although Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations remain the primary wholesale suppliers of cocaine in the U.S., they have reduced their trafficking efforts in recent
years as nationwide usage and demand have declined.45 For example, cocaine seizures decreased by 50 percent in California in the last year, though county-level seizure
data shows that cocaine remains a substantial problem in California. Los Angeles County
topped the list with over 58 percent of statewide seizure totals.
Figure 11
Task Force Seizures of Cocaine
Counties With Most Seized Cocaine (FY 2012-2013)
1.
2.
3.
4.
Los Angeles
Imperial
Riverside
Fresno
Statewide Total
1048
457
135
68
lbs.
lbs.
lbs.
lbs.
1,796 lbs.
17
Trafficking Humans Is Almost as Profitable as Trafficking Drugs
Transnational criminal organizations and gangs are also finding human trafficking to
be a lucrative and growing criminal enterprise. In fact, human trafficking is believed to
be one of the most profitable criminal activities, with estimates of profit ranging from
$13,000 annually per forced laborer to as much as $100,000 or more annually per
sex trafficking victim. According to the latest estimates from the U.S. Department of
State, 27 million people are trafficked each year worldwide, with 18,000 to 20,000
victims in the U.S. alone.46 Based on these figures, revenue from human trafficking
could be as high as $32 billion per year worldwide and at least $9.5 billion annually in the U.S.47 Transnational criminal organizations are motivated not only by these
high profits, but also by a frequently held notion among criminals that human trafficking
carries with it a lower risk of detection, allows for the renewable exploitation of their
human “commodities,” and risks lighter criminal punishment than narcotics trafficking.
Types of Human Trafficking
Sex Trafficking
Sex trafficking is the act of forcing, coercing, or transporting a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. These crimes are primarily committed against women
and children. Sex trafficking can occur in residential brothels, brothels disguised as
massage parlors, strip clubs, and via online escort services and street prostitution.
Labor Trafficking
Labor trafficking is the act of forcing a person to work for little or no money. It can include forced labor in underground markets and sweatshops, as well as legitimate businesses such as hotels, factories, restaurants, construction sites, farming, landscaping, nail
salons, and traveling sales crews.
Domestic Servitude
A form of labor trafficking, domestic servitude often involves women who are
forced to live and work in the homes of employers who confiscate their legal
documents and prevent them from leaving. Domestic workers can be U.S. citizens,
lawfully-admitted foreign nationals, or undocumented immigrants.
Source: Office of the Attorney General, The State of Human Trafficking in California (2012).
As highlighted in the California Department of Justice’s The State of Human Trafficking
in California, 2012, California is one of the states most affected by human trafficking, due in part to its proximity to the U.S. southwest border, its robust economy, and
a large immigrant population.48 Over the past two years, California’s nine regional
Human Trafficking Task Forces identified more than 1,300 human trafficking victims,
18
Figure 12
Human Trafficking Arrests Under California Law
(2001-2013)
180
160
Number of Arrests
140
120
100
80
Human Trafficking for
Forced Labor
Sex Trafficking of Minors
60
40
20
0
Source: CA State Threat Assessment Center; CA DOJ, California Justice Information Services
though the actual number of victims statewide is almost certainly significantly larger.49
A majority of these victims, approximately 56 percent, were trafficked for the purpose
of sexual exploitation, while 21 percent were destined for forced labor.50 Largely due
to increased public and law enforcement awareness of the issue, arrests under two
key human trafficking statutes – human trafficking for forced labor (CA Penal Code,
§236.1(a)) and sex trafficking of minors (CA Penal Code, §236.1(c)) – have
increased exponentially in the past six years, as shown in Figure 12.
Virtually all types of transnational criminal organizations in California participate in
human trafficking in one form or another. Asian and Eurasian transnational criminal
rings and gangs like the Asian Gangsters and Armenian Power are key facilitators of
domestic and international human trafficking in California, particularly sex trafficking.
They typically traffic victims of a similar ethnic background, using their cultural knowledge and ties to ethnic communities to their advantage.
In January 2013, special agents from the California Department of Justice, building off
an investigation by the FBI, arrested five suspects accused of running a human trafficking
network that spanned several northern California counties. Young women, aged 21 to
30, were trafficked from Mexico and sold for sex to as many as 20 clients in a single
day. The sex acts occurred in brothels identified in Chico, Stockton, Yuba City, Fairfield,
and Sacramento. In May 2013, three of the men pleaded no contest to conspiracy to
commit pimping and pandering charges and were sentenced to three years in prison.51
19
California Is a Gateway in the Criminal Firearms Trade
Increasingly, firearms are being trafficked through California to Mexico-based
transnational criminal organizations. Growing narcotics-related violence in Mexico
since 2006 and the needs of Mexican criminal organizations to control lucrative drug
trafficking routes, combined with restrictive firearms laws in Mexico, have led these
organizations to source firearms outside of Mexico.52 These organizations, specifically
the Sinaloa cartel, Los Zetas, and the Gulf cartel, are the leading weapons traffickers
in the U.S. They utilize their existing U.S.-based narcotics trafficking and money laundering infrastructures to facilitate weapons trafficking back to Mexico, with firearms
frequently trafficked by the same couriers through the same routes.53
A recent study estimates that 252,000 guns cross the U.S.-Mexico border each year,
with fewer than 15 percent seized.54 Although the firearms are not necessarily purchased in California due to California’s own robust gun laws, this state is increasingly the
gateway through which Mexico-based transnational criminal organizations move weapons obtained in other states via straw buyers to Mexico, making reverse use of existing
drug trafficking routes.55 For example, over 20,000 firearms – predominantly handguns
– were recovered in California in 2012 alone (Figure 13). These numbers are consistent
with seizures in past years. These statistics signal the existence of a vast pool of weapons
that could be at risk to enter the global arms trade.
Figure 13
Total Number of Firearms Recovered in California (2012)
<1%
13%
19%
Handguns (20,885)
68%
Rifles (5,995)
Shotguns (3,939)
Machineguns (52)
Source: CA State Threat Assessment Center (data from U.S. DOJ, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives)
20
Money Laundering Corrupts California’s Economy
Just as California is a key portal for drugs to flow into the U.S. and Canada, it is also
at the center of the reverse flow of billions of dollars of illicit bulk cash proceeds
generated by transnational criminal organizations and their criminal associates.
According to the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), a federal central clearinghouse
of data on currency and narcotics seizures, California is one of the top two states in
which narco-dollars are seized and to which seized narco-dollars are destined.56 As
Figure 14 shows, cash is smuggled from California back to Mexico or points farther
south – often through the same trafficking routes through which drugs, humans, or
weapons were originally smuggled – or is laundered through any number of fraudulent
schemes.57 The flow of this illicit money not only fuels ongoing operations of transnational criminal organizations, but also supplies them with the means to expand and
extend their influence across the globe.58
Figure 14
Bulk Cash Hubs and Routes
Bulk Cash Smuggling - Routes and Hub Cities
Chicago
New York
Legend
Consolidation Cities
Los Angeles
San Ysidro
Charlotte
Phoenix Tucson
Nogales
Atlanta
El Paso
Major Exit Points from Mexico
Los Angeles is both a consolidation &
deconsolidation city.
Houston
El Paso is both a deconsolidation city and a
significant POE crossing point.
McAllen
Monterrey
Significant POE Crossing Points
Third Country Destinations
Dallas
Laredo
Culiacan
Deconsolidation Cities
Brownsville
Cancun Airport
Guadalajara
Guadalajara Airport
Distrito Federal Airport
Venezuela
Panama
Colombia
Source: U.S.-Mexico Bi-National Criminal Proceeds Study, June 2010, Chart 4-1.
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S.-Mexico Bi-National Crime Proceeds Study (2010)
21
Money laundering is, by definition, a process designed to mislead law enforcement
and mischaracterize the source and origin of the financial proceeds resulting from
criminal activities, or “dirty money.” The process typically begins by breaking up large
amounts of money into smaller, less conspicuous sums, which are then deposited, or
“placed,” within the financial system. Through “layering,” the money launderer then
engages in transactions designed to distance the money from its original illicit source.
For example, the funds might be wired through a series of shell corporation accounts
Figure 15
Typical Money Laundering Scheme
22
at various banks around the country, or disguised as payments for non-existent goods
or services. Finally, to complete the laundering process, the funds are invested in assets
such as real estate or business ventures, and thereby “integrated” into the legitimate
economy.59 To avoid detection by law enforcement, transnational criminal organizations frequently change tactics and engineer new schemes. They also outsource certain
functions, such as the transportation and laundering of illicit proceeds, to other entities
to minimize risk of loss or apprehension.60
The Race Horses of Los Zetas
In 2012, federal money laundering charges were brought against brothers Miguel
Angel Treviño Morales and Oscar Omar Treviño Morales, reputed leaders of Los
Zetas, and others. Together with a brother who resided in the U.S., the Treviños
used more than 400 American Quarter Horses, along with ranch properties, to
launder tens of millions of dollars in Zetas drug proceeds.
Since horse racing is legal, the drug money was cloaked in the guise of legal assets. Moreover, because the highly prized horses could be easily sold, the assets
could be converted into cash whenever necessary. The Quarter Horses also generated legitimate-looking income in the form of horse race winnings during the intervening time period. Various
shell companies and fictitious
persons were used to further
disguise the cartel members’
connection to the horses,
with business affairs of the
horse operation extending
into California, New Mexico,
Texas, and Oklahoma. So
far, at least three people have
been convicted and sentenced
to prison, including the U.S.based brother, Jose Treviño
Morales. The defendants have also been ordered to forfeit property worth $60 million, which represents the amount of money traceable to their laundering activities.
Source: U.S. v. Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, (W.D. Tex. Dec. 4, 2012), Case No. A12-CR-210SS; U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Texas, Federal Prison Terms Handed Down in Multi-Million Dollar Money Laundering Conspiracy Involving Los Zetas Drug
Trafficking Proceeds, Extortion and Bribery (Sept. 5, 2013); U.S. DOJ, Federal Bureau of
Investigation.
23
Both federal and California law target money laundering by criminal enterprises. Some
provisions prohibit financial transactions involving funds associated with illegal activities.61 Other provisions criminalize the mere possession or transportation of illicit drug
proceeds.62 Both federal and state law also impose reporting requirements
on financial institutions with respect to large transactions. For example, federal law
requires financial institutions to report to financial regulators all currency transactions
over $10,000, as well as multiple currency transactions that aggregate to be more
than $10,000 in a single day.63 And both federal and state law make it a crime to
break up or “structure” financial transactions into amounts smaller than $10,000 for
the purpose of avoiding federal mandatory reporting requirements.64
Yet, in addressing “structuring,” there is an important difference in the legal tools that
federal and state prosecutors can bring to bear. Whereas federal law does not require
that the structured transactions be intended to hide the fact that money came from
criminal activities or facilitates criminal activities,65 California law requires that state
prosecutors prove a money launderer intentionally structured a financial transaction to
disguise that the proceeds were derived from a criminal activity or, alternatively, were
structured to promote or further criminal activity.66 That additional requirement imposes
a special burden on California prosecutors, often obstructing successful prosecution.
As discussed in this Report’s Recommendations (Chapter Six), California law should be
amended to remove this special burden.
Scope of the Money Laundering Problem in California
The true scope of the money laundering problem in California is unknown. However,
some experts estimate that approximately 1.5 to 2 percent of gross domestic product
(“GDP”)67 is laundered annually.68 Based on California’s $2 trillion GDP in 2012,69
approximately $30-40 billion could have been laundered in the state in 2012.
Uncertainty also plagues estimates of the amount of illicit cash proceeds smuggled from
the U.S. to Mexico every year. Estimates range from $18 billion to as much as $39
billion.70 For its part, California leads the nation in the number of seizures of currency,
commonly referred to by law enforcement as “bulk cash.”71 The seizures of bulk cash
increased by 40% in 2011 and remained relatively consistent in 2012 (Figure 16),
possibly reflecting law enforcement’s success in better detecting currency flowing over
the border.
In 2010 and 2012, Mexico enacted a number of anti-money laundering provisions
to combat the flow of illicit cash from the United States into Mexico by limiting foreign
currency cash transactions. As a result of Mexico’s enhanced efforts to combat money
laundering, drug trafficking proceeds are now reportedly returning to the United States
through ports of entry along the Mexican border, from San Ysidro to Calexico.72
24
Figure 16
Bulk Cash Seizures in California
$160,000,000.00
$134,666,241
$140,000,000.00
$130,347,733
$120,000,000.00
$100,000,000.00
$79,886,576
$80,000,000.00
$60,000,000.00
$40,000,000.00
$36,527,031
$41,823,022
$20,000,000.00
$0.00
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
Source: CA State Threat Assessment Center (data from EPIC)
Federal sources and California financial crime investigators along the border have
noted a substantial increase in cash imports from Mexico at certain points of entry in
Southern California.73 Individuals, claiming to be employees of money service businesses in Mexico (commonly referred to as casas de cambio), with substantial amounts
of bulk cash in duffle bags and backpacks have been witnessed crossing into California from Mexico. After declaring the amount of cash the individual is bringing into
California to Customs and Treasury officials, the individual goes directly to nearby
financial institutions, kiosks, or ATMs to deposit the imported bulk cash.74 These trends
underscore the need for better cooperation among financial regulators and law enforcement from the federal government, California, other states, and Mexico. This Report’s
Recommendations urge these officials to develop protocols to more effectively share
information and intelligence that could be used to disrupt illicit cross-border financial
flows. The Recommendations also emphasize the need to leverage existing partnerships for cooperation, such as the Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance.
The Attorneys General of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas established
the Alliance in 2010 to enhance and better coordinate investigations and intelligence
sharing related to money laundering in the U.S.-Mexico border region.75
25
Asset Forfeiture: A Critical Weapon to Fight Money Laundering
The seizure of laundered money is essential to disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal operations. Currently, two provisions in California law enable state
authorities to seize laundered money:
•Criminal Asset Forfeiture Provision: Money, monetary instruments, and
property derived from criminal profiteering are subject to forfeiture under the
California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act. (Penal Code, §§ 186–
186.8.)
•Civil Narcotics-Related Asset Forfeiture Provision: Money or other things
of value (including real property) used to procure controlled substances or to
facilitate specified narcotics offenses are subject to civil asset forfeiture. (Health
& Safety Code, § 11470.)
Significantly, both of these provisions permit the seizure of criminal proceeds and
assets only after the commencement of formal legal proceedings, such as the filing
of a criminal complaint or indictment. This loophole allows transnational criminal
organizations to safely remove assets that have been discovered by law enforcement, so long as formal legal proceedings have not yet begun. As discussed further
in this Report’s Recommendations (Chapter Six), this loophole must be closed. New
legislation should amend California law to permit law enforcement to temporarily
freeze an organization’s illicit proceeds or property even if no formal prosecution
has commenced yet.
Conclusion
California has emerged as the epicenter of transnational criminal organization activity
in the United States. This is due, in part, to a crackdown by the Mexican government
on drug cartels and the resulting fragmentation of the trafficking market, with Sinaloa
emerging as the dominant Mexico-based drug trafficking organization operating in
California. Sinaloa has fueled methamphetamine and marijuana smuggling from Mexico, but domestic cultivation and production of both drugs in California has increased
as well. Transnational criminal organizations are also facilitating weapons and human
trafficking into and around California and are corrupting regional marketplaces and
financial institutions through their multi-billion dollar money laundering practices.
26
Chapter Three
Transnational Criminal Organizations
and California Gangs: A Growing
Threat to Public Safety
The presence of transnational criminal organizations in California exacts a heavy price on
the state. Transnational criminal organizations contribute significantly to violence and criminal activity here, much of it drug- or gang-related. The partnering between Mexico-based
drug trafficking organizations and California’s street and prison gangs has spread those
problems throughout the state. Due in part to their coordination with Mexican trafficking
organizations, street and prison gangs now account for an average of 48 percent of violent
crime in many jurisdictions around the country and up to 90 percent in high trafficking
regions along the U.S.-Mexico border, such as Arizona, California, and Texas.76 With
gang membership up 40 percent nationally between 2009 and 2011, California is at
risk for violent crime, particularly assault, extortion, home invasion robberies, homicide,
intimidation, shootings, and other violence associated with transnational criminal activity, as
well as an increase in arrests for human trafficking offenses and significant seizures of drugs,
weapons, and cash.77 Even Mexico’s efforts to crack down on drug trafficking below the
border have further fragmented drug trafficking organizations and spurred an increase in
narcotics-related violence, some of which has spilled over into California.
This drug trafficking and increased gang activity, as well as the violence such activity
breeds, pose a serious public safety threat to Californians, particularly our youth. One
Center for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 61 percent of 15- to 24-yearolds murdered in the City of Los Angeles between 2003 and 2008 were victims of
gang violence.78 In the City of Long Beach, the rate was almost 70 percent.79 Moreover, a 2006 report from the California Department of Alcohol & Drug Programs found
that the percentage of Californians using illicit drugs was 18 percent above the national
average. More people died from drug abuse in California that year (4,290) than from
any other preventable cause that year, including motor vehicle accidents (3,293) and
firearms (3,094).80 With about 40,000 drug-related emergency room visits every year,
and an estimated $22.1 billion economic impact (when factoring in lost productivity,
health care costs, prevention and treatment costs, criminal justice costs, and losses due
to crime), illicit drug use poses a significant threat to California and its people.81 The
problem is of particular concern to California communities already facing significant
challenges from poverty, homelessness, domestic gang activity, and high crime rates.82
27
California Faces a Unique Threat of Spillover Violence from Mexico
Some reports suggest that the crackdown on large drug cartels in Mexico has sparked a rash
of violence between cartels and the government and between rival cartelitos. Some of the
violence has spilled over into border states like California. Out of this has emerged “a new
generation of criminals, younger and more willing to break with the discipline maintained by
traditional structures.”83 According to data released by the administration of former Mexican
President Felipe Calderón, there were more than 47,500 organized crime-related homicides
between December 2006 and September 2011, with a particular spike in violent crime in
Juárez and Tijuana.84 Other estimates place the number of homicides during the Calderón
Spillover Violence in California:
The Los Palillos Transnational Criminal Organization
Fragmentation and intra-organization violence spawned cross-border formation of a
new transnational criminal organization and violence in the San Diego border region. In
2002, Victor Rojas was a lieutenant in the Arellano-Félix Organization and was in charge
of an enforcement cell that extorted, robbed, murdered and kidnapped people in Tijuana
as part of the drug cartel operations. Victor’s younger brother, Jorge, became a valuable
and trusted member of the enforcement cell.
After his brother was killed by members of his own organization, Jorge Rojas fled Mexico to San Diego, where he re-established ties with associates with whom he had worked
in the enforcement cell. Rojas became the leader of a new U.S.-based transnational
criminal organization, Los Palillos, a rogue crew of drug traffickers, kidnappers, and
murderers. Los Palillos were motivated by revenge and greed, and targeted victims who
were believed to be linked to the Arellano-Félix Organization and to have large amounts
of cash or drugs. Los Palillos’ murders were particularly gruesome – multiple bodies shot,
beaten and stuffed into SUVs and trunks of cars, and others dissolved in 55-gallon barrels filled with muriatic acid and caustic soda.
The San Diego District Attorney has charged defendant Jorge Rojas, leader of Los Palillos, with nine murders with special circumstances, making him eligible for the death
sentence. Fourteen other alleged Los Palillos defendants are charged with at least one
murder with special circumstances, also making them eligible for the death penalty. Three
other defendants have pled out or were convicted at trial and sentenced to life without
possibility of parole. On January 16, 2014, Rojas was convicted on four of the murder
counts, while another member of Los Palillos, Juan Estrada-Gonzalez, was convicted on
six counts of murder. The jury also found true special circumstance allegations in both
cases, making Rojas and Estrada-Gonzalez eligible for the death penalty.
Source: People v. Rojas, et al., (San Diego County Superior Court), Case No. SCD208824 Information sourced from People’s Trial Brief, Group A.
28
administration at closer to 65,000, or roughly 10,000 per year.85 This violence has also
spilled over the border, with conflicts between Mexican drug trafficking organizations resulting in homicides and kidnappings in California, Texas, and Arizona. Some analysts fear that
the recent arrest of Sinaloa front man, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, will destabilize the
power structure and lead to increased violence in the Tijuana Corridor and beyond.
In February 2011, dozens of agents from the California Department of Justice
arrested three defendants in Palmdale, California, in connection with a murder-forhire plot. The defendants, Jorge Ernesto Sillas Rocha, Victor Manuel Magana Gonzalez, and Daniel Cepallo, were hired to assassinate five family members in California in retaliation for a trafficking-related financial debt owed to the Arellano-Félix
Organization (“AFO”). The hit men were hired by Juan Francisco Sillas Rocha, a
high-ranking AFO lieutenant apprehended by Mexican federal authorities in Tijuana
in late 2011. In late 2013, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted this case, obtained convictions and sentences of incarceration for all three
defendants (Sillas – 21 years; Magana – 15 years; and Cepallo – 5 years).86
In July 2010, Mexican authorities arrested two members of the Barrio Azteca gang,
an El Paso-based street gang. They were accused of killing a U.S. consulate employee
and her husband across the border in Juarez, Mexico, on behalf of the Juarez Cartel.
52 other gang members were also arrested in connection with the murders.87 On this
side of the border, a U.S. border agent was shot and killed by traffickers in a Sinaloacontrolled drug corridor near Nogales, Arizona in December 2010.88
California Is Threatened by the Alliance of
Transnational Criminal Organizations with Prison and Street Gangs
In recent years, law enforcement officials in California have witnessed a disturbing new
trend: increasing partnerships between transnational criminal organizations (particularly
Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations) and prison gangs, like the Mexican Mafia,
and Sureño street gangs. These alliances offer significant benefits to both parties. For the
cartels, a partnership with a local gang in California allows them to:
• Coordinate the distribution of illicit goods in California without having to set foot
on U.S. soil (and thus without placing themselves within the jurisdiction of U.S. law
enforcement).
• Use gangs to collect drug proceeds, act as enforcers, launder money, smuggle
weapons, commit kidnappings, and identify and scout possible undeveloped profitgenerating criminal ventures.
• Use gang members who are U.S. citizens to cross the border with less law enforcement scrutiny.
29
• Take advantage of street gangs’ detailed knowledge of their respective areas, connections to networks for the distribution and retail sale of illegal drugs, existing transportation
routes (in the case of outlaw motorcycle gangs), familiarity with law enforcement tactics,
and ability to respond quickly and effectively to changing local conditions.89
• Establish redundancies or alternative partnerships designed to minimize disruptions
to operations resulting from law enforcement actions.
In exchange for their assistance, prison and street gangs are given a share of the
drug proceeds and are allowed to bypass mid-level wholesale dealers and receive
discounts of up to 50 percent on bulk drug purchases.
The Mexican Mafia: A Threat Inside and Outside of Prison
The Mexican Mafia (also known as “La Eme”) is a prison gang founded in the 1950s
to protect incarcerated Hispanic street gang members. By use of violence, the Mexican
Mafia eventually gained power and control over illicit activities in the California prison
system and currently controls much of the distribution of drugs in state prisons, county
jails, and even in some federal prisons in California. As members were released from
prison, they extended their influence outside of prison to control drug distribution, provide protection for affiliates, secure trafficking routes, and tax local dealers.
La Eme’s current affiliates include:
• MS-13, whose name is actually a reference to “La Eme,” the 13th letter in the alphabet.
• Sinaloa and La Familia Michoacána cartels.
• Southern California Sureño gangs, including Westside and Diablos of Escondido
(San Diego County); Florencia 13 (F-13) gang (Los Angeles County), under the
supervision of Arturo Castellanos, a Mexico Mafia member and the leader of F-13,
who is serving a life term in Pelican Bay State Prison; 38th Street gang (Southeast
Los Angeles); and Logan Heights, Del Sol, Lomita Village 70’s, Shelltown, Southeast
Locos, and Old Town National City gangs.
The Mexican Mafia’s chief rival is La Nuestra Familia/Nuestra Raza – a prison gang
with approximately 2,000 members in California prisons that exerts control over
Northern California Hispanic (“Norteño”) street gangs. However, Nuestra Familia
has been significantly weakened by a number of recent law enforcement operations.
Sources: Indictment, U.S. v. Rodriguez-Landa (C.D. Cal. 2013), Case No. CR-13-0484;
Indictment, U.S. v. Laredo, et al. (C.D. Cal. 2013), Case No. CR-13-0537.
30
Although transnational criminal organizations typically prefer to partner with gangs
of the same ethnicity, they have consistently demonstrated that profits come above all
else. Thus, they will sometimes partner with the criminal organizations that best achieve
their goals regardless of their initial racial or ethnic preferences. Examples of ethnicallysimilar and dissimilar unions include:
• Sinaloa works with the Mexican Mafia, Sureños gangs, and transnational gangs
like MS-13.90
• La Familia Michocána has ties to numerous types of
gangs with diverse ethnic backgrounds: criminal street
gangs (Bloods, Crips, Avenues, Norteños, and Sureños),
prison gangs (Aryan Brotherhood, the Mexican Mafia,
and La Nuestra Familia), and traditionally-white motorcycle gangs like the Hells Angels and Outlaw Motorcycle
Gangs.
• Aryan Brotherhood is affiliated with the Mexican
Mafia and Arellano-Félix Organization in drug,
weapons, and stolen vehicle trafficking.91
• MS-13 and other transnational gangs have become
central players in narcotics and human trafficking in California, partnering with Mexico-based
transnational criminal organizations and Sureños
gangs to facilitate cross-border smuggling of people
and drugs, sell drugs on the retail market, perform
contract killings, and launder the proceeds through
seemingly legitimate local businesses.92
• Tiny Rascal Gang, which was originally a gang of
Cambodian juveniles, has grown to include Filipinos, Latinos, and African Americans. Their allies
include Asian groups, such as Wah Ching, which
originated in San Francisco in the early 1960s and
is now one of the largest and most ruthless Chinese
transnational criminal organizations operating in the U.S.93
Sureños
Sureño street gangs are
Hispanic gangs that have
traditionally been active in
Southern California. On
the streets, each gang (or
“clique”) maintains its own
identity and is organizationally separate from other
Sureños gangs. However,
they are interconnected
through their common loyalty to the Mexican Mafia on
the streets and in prison. In
recent years, Sureño gang
activity has expanded into
northern California and
other western states, often
sparking violent conflicts
with existing gangs.
Source: National Gang Intelligence Center, National Gang
Threat Assessment: Emerging
Trends (2011), p. 12.
• Asian transnational criminal organizations from Southeast Asian counties like
Vietnam and Malaysia have ties to Asian street gangs operating in Santa Clara
County, like the Asian Boyz, Asian Warriors, and Asian Gangsters.
31
Case Study: La Familia Michoacána and the Mexican Mafia
One of the most significant unions in
recent years between a Mexico-based
transnational criminal organization and
a prison/street gang was the 2011
alliance between La Familia Michoacana
(“LFM”) and the Mexican Mafia. As outlined in the July 2013 indictment in U.S. v.
Rodriguez-Landa (C.D. Cal. 2013),
representatives of the Mexican Mafia
entered into an agreement in April
2011 with LFM – historically one of the
most significant Mexico-based methamphetamine trafficking organizations – to
help LFM become a dominant distributor and seller of methamphetamine and
marijuana in Southern California.
Under the agreement, dubbed “The
Project,” the Mexican Mafia would
protect LFM’s drug shipments and sales,
prevent other criminal gangs from
taxing LFM’s drug shipments and sales,
collect drug debts owed to LFM, and
provide protection to incarcerated
LFM members in prison and jail. In
exchange, LFM provided approximately
$500,000 to Mexican Mafia leaders
upfront, with a share in drug proceeds
going forward and discounted rates on
methamphetamine for Mexican Mafia
members and associates.
32
Figure 17
“The Project”
“The Canadian Connection”
Santa Clara County law enforcement officials broke up a unique criminal alliance in
March 2009 when they arrested 14 people and seized 200 kilograms of cocaine
being distributed through a joint partnership between La Familia Michoacana and a
Vietnamese organization based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. In addition to trading pseudoephedrine (a precursor to methamphetamine) for cocaine, and swapping
strains of marijuana, the organizations co-invested in shipments of narcotics throughout
the U.S.
Source: Interview with a Deputy District Attorney in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s
Office (Oct. 23, 2013).
The Criminal Alliances Have Sparked a Rash of Violence
The deepening associations between Mexican drug trafficking organizations and
gangs in California have, in turn, increased the potential for harm to California. Based
on the best numbers currently available, there were approximately 4,897 gangs and
186,119 gang members in California in August 2013, making California one of the
most gang-dense states in the country.94 In particular, in 2011, two California counties, Los Angeles and San Bernardino, ranked first and third in the country in terms of
the ratio of gang members to population (Figure 18).95
The rise of Mexico-based drug cartels at a time when gang involvement is at record
highs jeopardizes an otherwise encouraging trend in the reduction of crime in recent
years. While the state’s homicide rate has reached its lowest level since 1966, nearly
30 percent of all killings committed in California from 2009 through 2012 – 1,911
homicides – were gang-related. For example, the City of San Jose reported a 300
percent increase in gang-related homicides between 2010 and 2011. Similarly, the
City of Modesto reported a 213 percent increase in gang-related aggravated assaults
between 2011 and August 2012, with corresponding increases in the number of
both juvenile perpetrators and victims. Some California jurisdictions have reported that
“gangs are responsible for at least 90 percent of [violent] crime.”96
This is due in part to territorial battles as transnational criminal organizations and gangs
expand their operations into new territories. For example, in order to expand their field of
influence into Northern California, Mexican drug cartels sometimes rely on established
connections with Sureño gangs based out of Southern California. However, the historic antipathy between Sureños and Norteños creates friction when Sureño gang members move
into regions controlled by Norteños. This dynamic is seen in places like San Jose where, in
January 2011, gang members working for a Mexican drug trafficking organization stormed
33
Figure 18
Gangs and Gang Members In California
Identified by Law Enforcement Agencies
Del
Norte
Del
Norte
Total Number of Gang Members
Total Number of Gangs
Siskiyou
Siskiyou
Modoc
> 10,000
Trinity
Humboldt
101-500
Shasta
5,001-10,000
Lassen
Lassen
2,501-5,000
Tehama
Sonoma
1,001-2,500
Butte
Yuba
Lake
Sonoma
Placer
San
Francisco
San
Mateo
Yuba
0-10
Nevada
Yolo
Marin
Alpine
Amador
San
Joaquin
0-100
Calaveras
Alameda
Tuolumne
Stanislaus
Santa
Clara
Mono
Mariposa
Merced
Santa
Cruz
Napa
101-500
El Dorado
Sacramento
Solano
Contra Costa
Sierra
Placer
Yolo
Napa
Marin
11-50
Butte
Colusa
501-1,000
Nevada
Plumas
Glenn
Sierra
Colusa
Sutter
Lake
51-100
Tehama
Mendocino
Plumas
Glenn
Sutter
Mendocino
> 500
Modoc
Trinity
Humboldt
Shasta
San
Joaquin
Calaveras
Alameda
Tuolumne
Stanislaus
Santa
Clara
Monterey
Tulare
Mono
Mariposa
Merced
Madera
San
Benito
Fresno
Kings
Alpine
Amador
Santa
Cruz
Madera
San
Benito
Contra Costa
San
Francisco
San
Mateo
El Dorado
Sacramento
Solano
Fresno
Monterey
Inyo
Tulare
Kings
San Luis
Obispo
Inyo
San Luis
Obispo
Kern
Kern
Santa
Barbara
Santa
Barbara
Ventura
San Bernardino
Los
Angeles
Orange
Riverside
San
Diego
Imperial
Ventura
San Bernardino
Los
Angeles
Orange
Riverside
San
Diego
Imperial
Source: CalGang
a nightclub in an attempt to kidnap the owner over a drug debt.97 A shootout ensued
between rival gang affiliates, and three people were killed. Instances of such violence demonstrate the impact of transnational criminal organizations and gangs competing to expand
the geographic scope of their drug distribution networks.
Conclusion
Transnational criminal organization activity poses a significant public safety threat in
California. In particular, clashes between Mexican drug trafficking organizations over
control of profitable trafficking routes have led to increasing violence in Mexico, in California, and along the southwestern U.S. border. Transnational criminal organization
reliance on street and prison gangs for protection and distribution of illicit goods has
reenergized existing and dormant gang rivalries, leading to increased gang casualties
in an era of otherwise declining criminal activity.
34
Chapter Four
New Challenges Facing Law Enforcement
in Combatting Drug Trafficking
The increased presence of transnational criminal organizations in California has
created new challenges for law enforcement. As discussed above, the relatively new
alliances between transnational criminal organizations and California prison and
street gangs give transnational criminal organizations both greater organizational
stability and access to more territory. New forms of digital communications
technology, such as smartphones, the Internet, and social media, have made it easier
for criminal networks to coordinate their activities without detection and even to
track their targets. Moreover, the process of globalization has outpaced the growth
of global governance, creating massive opportunities for criminal organizations to
grow their business. Finally, new trafficking strategies, including maritime smuggling,
and the use of cross-border tunnels and ultra-light
aircraft, pose new threats to law enforcement.
Social Media
Despite these and other challenges, including
Transnational criminal
massive budget cuts, law enforcement has made
organizations and gangs
some important inroads against transnational
are increasingly using social
criminal activity in California.
media resources for propaganda, intimidation, recruitment, and communication. AcNew Technologies Facilitate Gang Activities
cording to the National Gang
Not surprisingly, transnational criminal organizations
Intelligence Center, Mexican
and gangs have embraced mobile communications
cartels have posted hundreds
technologies, such as the Internet and cell phones,
of videos on social media
not just to recruit new members and expand their
depicting interrogations or
executions of their rivals and
social networks, but also to build and operate
countless video montages of
criminal networks without the geographic proximity
luxury vehicles, weapons, and
once needed for communication.
money set to songs that glorify
the drug trafficking lifestyle.
Even in California’s prisons, inmates are increasingly
using cell phones to coordinate criminal activities
and to intimidate or harass other gang members
or innocent people outside prison walls. In 2007,
1,400 illegal communications devices were
confiscated from prisoners. By 2011, the number
Source: National Gang Intelligence Center, National Gang
Threat Assessment: Emerging
Trends (2011), p. 41.
35
of seizures had eclipsed 15,000, a 10-fold increase.98 In 2010, there were 200
incidents directly traced back by the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) Investigative Services Unit to inmates using cell phones to
conduct criminal activities from inside CDCR institutions. In 2011, CDCR’s Office
of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services recorded 119 contacts made by CDCR
inmates using cell phones to continue victimizing people from inside CDCR institutions.
To address this problem, CDCR implemented an 11-day pilot program in 2011 at two
state prisons in Solano and Vacaville aimed at curbing the unauthorized use of cell
phones. Using “managed access” technology to block or “jam” signals to unauthorized
devices, officials were able to detect 2,593 illicit wireless devices in the prisons and
24,190 unauthorized communication attempts. “In one day on one yard in one institution,
the system prevented 400 unauthorized devices and blocked 4,000 unauthorized
communication attempts from those devices,” resulting in a 64 percent increase in the
use of authorized payphones.99
Building off the success of this pilot program, CDCR contracted with Global Tel*Link
– a prison telephone company – to develop and implement a three-stage plan to install
managed access systems in 34 prisons across the state by June 1, 2015. Phase 0 of
this plan was completed on October 31, 2012, with jamming technology installed at
Avenal State Prison. In Phase I of the plan, 17 additional adult facilities were retrofitted,
with Phase II calling for installations in 16 more adult facilities by June 1, 2015.
The use and adoption of communications technology to engage in transnational criminal
activity has continued to expand beyond just the use of cell phones. Drug wholesalers
can now sell illegal drugs and prescription pills over the Internet and track their shipments
online, alerting the intended recipients of these illegal drugs to a possible interception.100
Some particularly sophisticated networks even use specialized hackers to encrypt and
protect their communications from law enforcement.101 Traffickers also take advantage
of e-commerce and Internet banking to move money and pay suppliers and operatives
without the risks associated with physical transfers of money. And human smugglers
similarly make extensive use of e-mail, disposable cell phones, and encryption systems,
while sex traffickers make sickening use of the Internet to “display the wares in the
cyberspace equivalent of slave auctions.”102
Even as communications technology has developed, some transnational criminal
organizations and gangs, particularly prison gangs, have continued to use more
traditional means to convey messages to their operatives. In one example, a member
of the Mexican Mafia imprisoned in Pelican Bay State Prison issued a “kite,” a small
piece of paper containing instructions to Florencia-13, a Sureño street gang in Los
Angeles (Figure 19).103 The letter outlined rules concerning: (1) governance structure;
(2) drug and prostitution schemes; (3) dispute resolution systems; (4) rules for contract
killings; and (5) methods for identifying and punishing informants.104
36
Figure 19
“Kite” Issued by Imprisoned Mexican Mafia Leader
Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California (2013)
Increased Global Trade Has Made It Harder to Detect Illicit Trafficking
The past quarter century has witnessed unprecedented growth in global trade, finance,
travel, and communication.105 But the process of globalization has outpaced the
growth of global governance, creating massive opportunities for criminal organizations
to make their business prosper.106 People and goods can move between countries
more cheaply and efficiently than ever before, making it harder to distinguish between
licit and illicit transfers.107
Taking advantage of these developments, transnational criminal organizations have
“diversified, gone global and reached macro-economic proportions,” with illicit goods
frequently sourced from one continent, trafficked through another, and sold on a third.108
In this way, the criminal underworld has become inextricably tied to the global economy,
with transnational criminal organizations using trade, banking, and communications
networks (whether shipping routes, financial centers, or the Internet) to traffic growing
quantities of contraband.111
Transnational criminal organizations engaged in drug, human, and firearm trafficking
have responded to globalization and increased international trade by adapting
their strategies and methods to exploit the heavy cross-border flows of goods and
37
Figure 20
Growth in International Trade (1948-2008)
Source: Prof. Steve Suranovic, International Trade: Theory and Policy (2010)
people.112 Moreover, faced with enhanced border security regimens resulting from
the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, they have modified traditional forms of
concealment and developed new methods to evade detection at the California-Mexico
border.113 This increasing level of operational awareness and sophistication presents a
unique challenge for local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel in California.
Transnational Criminal Organizations Mask Trafficking
at Traditional Ports of Entry
Historically, the vast majority of all narcotics, weapons, and human smuggling by
transnational criminal organizations has been done over land, where transnational
organizations can exploit the high vehicle and pedestrian traffic at border crossings.
As a result, the most popular smuggling methods of Mexico-based criminal
organizations to traffic smaller quantities of narcotics into California have been
pedestrian couriers and privately-owned vehicles, particularly those with hidden
compartments in the engine, car frame, gas tank, trunk, tires, and seats.
For larger shipments, Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations have frequently used
commercial vehicles to move narcotics, weapons, and humans across the U.S. border.
By hiding drugs, weapons, or persons within otherwise legitimate freight transported by
commercial trucks, these traffickers have exploited opportunities arising from the growth
of legitimate international trade.
38
In U.S. v. Molinero (C.D. Cal. 2013), a Mexico-based drug trafficking organization
smuggled over a period of two years over 36 kilograms of heroin, over 30
kilograms of cocaine, and more than 2,400 pounds of methamphetamine inside
PVC pipes. These pipes were further concealed in tractor trailer axles on commercial
trucks driven across the border in Arizona and routed to Los Angeles for distribution.
Similarly, in U.S. v. Mendoza-Haro (D. Colo. 2012), prosecutors alleged that
Mexico-based traffickers transported methamphetamine and bulk cash between
Colorado and California, in some instances hiding drugs in loads of milk and, in
at least one instance, strapping cash to the body of a minor as he was driven from
Colorado to California.
Although these smuggling methods remain popular, they are highly vulnerable
to interdiction. Consequently, Mexican drug trafficking organizations have more
recently begun to utilize a number of strategies to reduce the risks of detection
and seizure:
• Lookouts, commonly known as halcones, are frequently used to monitor border
crossings, recognize vulnerabilities of ports of entry, and detect periods of
decreased law enforcement presence.
• Illegal drugs are sometimes transported in convoys, with lead cars intended to
be inspected by border agents, thereby decreasing the chances that subsequent
loads will be seized.
• Recently, cartels have begun to smuggle methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin
into the U.S. in liquid form. The narcotics are dissolved into liquid in Mexico,
smuggled across the border, and then converted back to powder or crystalline
form for distribution. Trafficking via this method can retain up to 90 percent purity
or better, depending upon the capabilities of the conversion lab.
Transnational Criminal Organizations Are Finding Alternatives
to Ports of Entry
While land-based trafficking through ports of entry remains the most common
trafficking strategy, transnational criminal organizations are increasingly shifting
resources to maritime and air trafficking.112 These trafficking methods include
the use of panga boats and ultra-light aircraft, as well as cross-border tunnels, all
of which have proven challenging for law enforcement to monitor or intercept.
Pangas
Transnational criminal organizations are increasingly exploiting California’s extensive
coastline and beaches to smuggle narcotics and people into the state. Pangas, also
39
Figure 21
“Super Panga” Boat Found in Santa Barbara County
Source: Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (2013)
known as lanchas, are the primary maritime trafficking threat to California. These
low profile fishing vessels – between 20 and 38 feet in length – are fast (over 40
knots), effective, and economical. Most importantly, due to their fiberglass construction
and low profile, pangas are extremely difficult to detect by radar or night vision.
This, coupled with the sheer size of California’s coastline, means that most panga
discoveries are made either through tips or by happenstance.
Typically, pangas are launched from coastal communities in Baja California, such as
Rosarito Beach, with few crew members. The vessels then sail north, often to a staging
area well within international waters, before moving at high speeds into California to
offload their illicit cargo.113 The Sinaloa cartel is the primary Mexican cartel conducting
panga smuggling operations along California’s coast. In recent months, U.S. Coast
Guard crews and local officials have interdicted suspected Sinaloa-affiliated “super
panga” vessels capable of carrying several thousand pounds of drugs. The super panga
above was designed to carry as much as 10-12 tons of marijuana (Figure 21).
The increasing reliance on panga-based maritime smuggling by Mexico-based drug
trafficking organizations is evidenced by seizure activity over the past several years.
Panga boat interceptions doubled between 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, while panga
drug seizures have increased significantly in recent years, with seizures of marijuana from
pangas ballooning from 3,800 pounds in 2008 to 120,000 pounds in 2012.114
40
Figure 22
Panga Boat Smuggling Routes (2010-2013)
Source: CA State Threat Assessment Center
These statistics correspond with a period of decreasing marijuana seizures at land
border crossings, suggesting a shift in the strategy of Mexican drug rings toward
exploiting the vastness of the sea in order to smuggle drugs into the state.115
The majority of panga incidents before 2010 were confined to the Southern
California coastline between San Diego and Los Angeles. However, there are now
indications of panga operations that head further north along the coast beyond
Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties, with landings reported as
far north as Santa Cruz and Monterrey Counties (Figure 22).116
• Santa Cruz County: On September 30, 2013, a 20-foot panga wrecked off
the shore of Four Mile Beach north of Santa Cruz. Eighty pounds of marijuana
washed ashore, though officials suspected the craft was originally carrying
considerably more.117 This followed a similar incident on July 27, 2013, when a
panga was discovered near Bonny Doon Beach in Santa Cruz carrying 1,200
pounds of marijuana valued at $2.1 million.118
41
• San Luis Obispo County: On September 11, 2013, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff
deputies and state park rangers discovered a beached 30-foot panga vessel near San
Simeon State Park Campground. In addition, officers found a 30-pound package of
marijuana with a reported street value of $18,000. Investigators believe traffickers
offloaded several thousands of pounds of marijuana from the boat the night before.119
• Santa Barbara County: The first confirmed panga landing in Santa Barbara County
occurred in March 2010, when over one ton of marijuana was recovered.120
However, review of a GPS device found on the panga revealed frequent trips
to San Luis Obispo County.121 Since then, Santa Barbara has experienced a
steady increase in panga recoveries, with 8 panga incidents in 2011 and 21
panga incidents in 2012.122 Officials state that about one out of every five
panga boats intercepted contains human cargo.123 Moreover, some intercepted
pangas have been operated by unaccompanied juveniles, including one off
the coast of Santa Barbara that contained three females aged 11, 14, and 17
years old.124
Regional Threat: Panga Boats in Santa Barbara County
On September 13, 2013, local, state, and federal law enforcement officials
witnessed a group of 19 individuals offloading suspected bales of narcotics from
a panga boat that came ashore in Goleta. Officers arrested 14 people and seized
more than 2,000 pounds of marijuana as a result of the interdiction.
Figure 23 eized Panga Boat in Santa Barbara County S
Figure 24
Illegal Drugs Seized From Panga Boat
Source: Santa Barbara County Sherriff’s Office
42
Source: Santa Barbara County
Sherriff’s Office
• San Diego County: In recent incidents, U.S. Coast Guard crews patrolling the San
Diego coastline interdicted a super panga carrying 122 bales of marijuana weighing
2,900 pounds, and a panga that carried $210,000 worth of the drug “bath salts.”125
Pangas Pose New Dangers for Law Enforcement Officials
The use of pangas by Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations presents new
threats to agents trying to prevent the flow of illicit goods into California. Interdiction
efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard or local law enforcement officials have led to highspeed chases, with smugglers trying to dispose of their illegal cargo before being
detained. In one tragic incident in December 2012, a Coast Guard Chief Petty
Officer was killed off the coast of Santa Barbara when a Sinaloa-affiliated panga
intentionally rammed an inflatable Coast Guard boat.126 In another incident in
October 2013, the Coast Guard apprehended a panga boat carrying 31 bales of
marijuana (with a street value between $2 million and $3 million) after an extended
high-speed chase off the shore of San Diego.127
Cross-Border Tunnels
In contrast to cheap, often one-use pangas, cross-border tunnels are a significant
investment for Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations. These organizations are
increasingly exploiting specific areas underneath the California-Mexico border at
places such as San Ysidro, Otay Mesa, and Calexico, due in part to limited law
enforcement resources to counteract the subterranean threat.128 Cross-border tunnels
primarily facilitate multi-ton shipments of narcotics from Mexico to the U.S., but are
also used for smuggling people. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security, approximately 169,000 pounds of narcotics, valued in excess of $200
million, have been seized from cross-border tunnels since 1990.129 The Sinaloa
cartel is the main Mexico-based transnational criminal organization suspected of
constructing cross-border tunnels. Indeed, the vast majority of cross-border tunnels
are discovered in California and Arizona, sites for Sinaloa-controlled territories.130
Cross-border tunnels range in sophistication from the rudimentary to highly
sophisticated.131 Sophisticated tunnels are extremely well-constructed and can stretch
for more than 2,000 feet, using a system of ventilation, lighting, and rail.132
Since the 1990s, more than 161 cross-border tunnels have been discovered, with
more than 75 detected since 2006.133 According to DHS, cross-border tunneling
activity has increased 80 percent since 2008, with California leading the nation in
the number of sophisticated tunnels discovered.134
43
Tijuana-San Diego Cross-Border Tunnel
On October 30, 2013, officers from the San Diego Tunnel Task Force shut down
a “super tunnel,” with suspected links to the Sinaloa cartel, that spanned one-third
of a mile between an industrial area of Tijuana and a warehouse just west of San
Diego’s Otay Mesa port of entry. The tunnel, one of more than 75 cross-border
tunnels discovered by law enforcement over the last seven years, was 35 feet
underground and equipped with lighting, ventilation, and an electric rail system.
Officials also seized 17,000 pounds of marijuana and about 325 pounds of
cocaine, with a combined street value of $12 million – marking the first time
that authorities had seized cocaine in connection with a tunnel. Three Sinaloa
associates were booked on federal drug charges, and officials made clear that
the tunnel was shut down before it became fully operational.
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
44
Ultra-Light Aircraft
Ultra-light aircraft are single-pilot, three-wheeled platforms that use hang-gliders and
single-propeller engines to fly in excess of 70 miles per hour. They are inexpensive
and can exploit the vast airspace along rural stretches of the California-Mexico border
to drop hundreds of pounds of narcotics at designated drop locations in agricultural
fields, rural roads, or the desert in San Diego and Imperial Counties (Figure 25).
Since 2008, when the first eight sightings were reported, there have been more than
200 incidents involving ultra-lights. For example, on August 29, 2013, U.S. Customs
and Border Protection agents found an abandoned ultra-light aircraft in the Southern
California desert community of Niland, near the Mexican border. Agents found nearly
190 pounds of marijuana and 13 pounds of methamphetamine valued in excess of
a half-million dollars still strapped to the aircraft.135 While the frequency of ultra-light
incursions is likely to increase in the near term, its significance as an emerging trafficking
threat will not likely outpace panga maritime smuggling or cross-border tunnels given
the cargo limitations of the aircrafts. However, as drone technology develops and
becomes more widely available, law enforcement will have to be prepared to contend
with these unmanned aerial trafficking threats.
Figure 25
Seized Ultra-Light Aircraft
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection
45
Sustained Funding Is Critical to Continued Law Enforcement Success
Law enforcement officials in California have made significant inroads in tackling
the new trafficking strategies developed and utilized by transnational criminal
organizations. For example, in 2012-2013, California state drug task forces
disrupted or dismantled 140 drug, money-laundering and gang organizations;
arrested nearly 3,000 individuals, including 176 gang members; rescued 41
drug endangered children; confiscated 1,000 weapons; and seized nearly
$28.5 million in U.S. currency in anti-narcotic law enforcement actions statewide.
Law enforcement agents have also disrupted and dismantled Sinaloa cells operating
in California. For example, in “Operation Silver Fox,” which began in January 2009,
the California Department of Justices’s Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement (“BNE”) and
the Imperial County Narcotic Task Force, District Attorney, and Sherriff conducted an
8-month investigation in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Imperial Counties that
included more than 100 surveillance operations, 30 undercover meetings with
Sinaloa cartel members and associates, and the execution of 6 search warrants. The
operation led to indictments against 16 alleged Sinaloa members and the seizure of:
• 420 pounds of cocaine and 136 pounds of marijuana, with a combined street
value of more than $19 million;
• $1.7 million in U.S. currency; and
• nine firearms, including seven handguns and two assault rifles.
A similar investigation by two Imperial Valley Task Forces, dubbed “Operation
Kings X,” resulted in 70 separate indictments, including the arrest of a top Sinaloa
cartel member on charges of attempted kidnapping and extortion, and the seizure
of 77,319 pounds of marijuana, 2,092 pounds of cocaine, 191 pounds of
methamphetamine, 114 pounds of heroin, 35 vehicles, and more than $9.35 million.
The Inland Crackdown Allied Task Force has also had some success cracking
down on Sinaloa activity in Southern California, including the September 2012
arrest of four Sinaloa associates in Riverside County in connection with a $1
million methamphetamine sale, and the November 2011 arrest of two Sinaloa
associates in connection with a $1.8 million cocaine sale.
BNE also led a number of successful crackdowns involving prison and street gangs,
most notably, “Operation Crimson Tide.” Over the course of a two-year investigation,
spanning 23 counties and 13 correctional institutions, BNE significantly weakened
Nuestra Familia, the chief rival prison gang to the Mexican Mafia, by arresting all of
the organization’s regional commanders.
46
Notable raids in the operation included:
(1) a June 2011 takedown of the San Joaquin Valley branch of the gang, in which
more than 50 properties were raided and 101 suspects were arrested, including
Gonzalo “Gunner” Esquivel and Felipe Gutierrez, whom agents described as
“the highest-ranking [Nuestra Familia member] that we know of on the outside”;
(2) the 2012 arrests of 15 additional members in San Jose and Santa Clara counties,
including 7 female associates; and
(3) a May 2013 takedown, dubbed “Operation Snake Eyes,” which resulted in the
arrests of 47 Nuestra Familia members involved in a Salinas methamphetamine
distribution ring.
In 2012, BNE suffered severe budget reductions and was forced to close down. As a
result, the number of state task forces dropped from 55 in 2011 to just 17 in 2013, a
70 percent reduction in field operational capacity.
This reduction in law enforcement funding has adversely impacted the California
Department of Justice’s local drug interdiction and organized crime fighting
activities statewide. Task forces led by the Department of Justice have played
an integral role in fighting narco-trafficking gangs, and the continued growth of
transnational criminal organizations warrants increased funding for task forces
and associated Special Operations Units within the Department of Justice.
Sources: Office of the Attorney General, Brown Announces 16 Indictments, 550 Pound Drug
Seizure Following Infiltration of Sinaloa Cartel (Aug. 26, 2009); San Diego and Imperial
Counties High Density Drug Trafficking Area, HIDTA Annual Report (2012), p. 12; Indictment,
U.S. v. Esquivel (E.D. Cal 2011); Don Thompson, More Than 100 Arrested in Sting of Calif.
Gang, Bakersfield Now (Jun. 8, 2011).
Globalization Creates New Money Laundering Threats
As globalization increases and California’s participation in international trade continues
to intensify, transnational criminal organizations have exploited the associated increase in
the volume of goods and services crossing international boundaries to disguise, launder,
and smuggle the money they reap from the sale of drugs and trafficking of persons. One
example of this phenomenon is trade-based money laundering.
47
California’s International Commerce and Trade-Based Money
Laundering Schemes
An integral part of the Pacific Rim economic community and, on its own, one of
the world’s largest economies, California is a major hub for international trade and
commerce.136 In 2012, international trade flowing through California’s ports totaled
$579.6 billion.137 Los Angeles exported $121.3 billion worth of goods and imported
$282.6 billion in foreign goods. Combined, Los Angeles’ imports and exports
represent more than 69 percent of California’s total international port trade.138
California’s substantial international trade provides a platform for complex tradebased money laundering schemes to flourish.139 In these schemes, cash derived from
criminal activity is laundered through trade and commerce transactions that appear
to be legitimate.140 While trade-based money laundering in the U.S. has not been
studied systematically, some experts estimate it to be the most significant method
used to launder money from the country. Not surprisingly, transnational criminal
organizations are using it with increasing frequency.141
One mechanism used by these organizations to finance trade-based money
laundering is the Black Market Peso Exchange (Figure 26). The scheme exemplifies
a trend towards decentralizing and outsourcing money laundering functions to limit
exposure to criminal liability.
In the Black Market Peso Exchange scheme, a transnational criminal organization’s
money laundering is outsourced to a Money Laundering Organization (Peso Broker),
which helps finance an international trade transaction using cash derived from
criminal activity, such as the sale of drugs. The Peso Broker arranges for the delivery
of a trafficker’s drug cash to a U.S. vendor to pay for goods ordered by a business
customer based in Mexico. The trade goods are then shipped to Mexico and sold by
the Mexican business customer. The Mexican business customer reimburses the Peso
Broker, in pesos, for the dollars used to purchase the U.S. trade goods. The Peso
Broker, in turn, pays the transnational criminal organization, in pesos, the amount of
illicit drug money used to finance the international trade transaction.
In this way, the transnational criminal organization has transferred the narco-dollars
from the U.S. to Mexico and, for a relatively small fee, has effectively converted the
proceeds to Mexican pesos. The Mexican business has also reduced its costs in
conducting an international trade transaction, thus increasing its profit margin. The Peso
Broker has made a commission from both the transnational criminal organization and
the Mexican business customer without exposing itself to criminal liability associated
with the smuggling and distribution of narcotics. And the U.S. vendor, a business
engaged in international trade and commerce, has generated a profitable cash
transaction, increasing its market share over its competitors.
48
Figure 26
Trade-based Money Laundering Scheme
Money Courier
delivers drug
money
Bulk Drug Money in
U.S. Currency
gM
on
ey
TCO
Drugs
Sold
De
liv
er
yo
fD
ru
United States of America
Pe
s
Mexican Transnational
Criminal Organization
(TCO) Drugs
oB
ro
ke
r
Di
re
cts
Republic
of Mexico
Border Based
Businesses
Send Goods
to Mexico
Peso Broker
Gives Pesos
to TCO
Goods Sold By
Mexican Business
Peso Proceeds Go
To The Peso Broker
The laundering of cash drug proceeds through products and hard goods has come
under scrutiny by law enforcement in California. In cases from 2010 to 2013, the
federal government has prosecuted several Los Angeles-based international trade
vendors and their owners who were engaged in laundering transnational criminal
organization cash drug proceeds through the sale of silk flowers and toy bears. The
three companies, Angel Toy Corporation, Woody Toys, Inc., and Peace and Rich,
collectively laundered approximately $17.7 million in U.S. currency through tradebased money laundering schemes.142
All three vendors received significant amounts of bulk cash from third parties (drug
money couriers) to pay for international orders by Mexican and Colombian businesses
seeking delivery of toys and or silk flowers. Bulk cash deliveries in amounts exceeding
$10,000 were then broken up into smaller amounts by the defendant businesses
before being deposited to avoid triggering notice requirements by the banks to federal
regulators. Angel Toy executed approximately 63 structured cash deposits, while Woody
49
Toys involved approximately 59, and Peace and Rich involved approximately 151.
Anonymously structured cash bank deposits were funneled from various cities around
the country, including New York City, Chicago, and Laredo, Texas, to the defendants’
business bank accounts, with credit assigned to the international customers.
Due to the substantial amount of illicit drug proceeds flowing through the community
and the willingness of some Los Angeles business owners to launder money on
behalf of transnational criminal organizations, law enforcement officials consider
Los Angeles and its many specialty business districts – the toy, jewelry, flower,
garment and fashion districts – to be a “Mecca for narco-dollars” and a “target-rich
environment” for money laundering.143
Conclusion
The adaptability and fluidity of modern-day transnational criminal organizations
ensures constant new challenges for law enforcement officials. Transnational criminal
organizations in California are taking advantage of new technologies to communicate,
recruit, propagandize, and intimidate. Transnational criminal organizations have
also used the increase in global trade to mask their trafficking activities, increasingly
relying on panga boats to transport drugs, weapons, and human cargo from
Mexico up the coast into California. These organizations have further proven highly
sophisticated in exploiting the complexities of international commerce to disguise,
launder, and smuggle money made from the sale of drugs
and trafficking of persons.
50
Chapter Five
High-Tech Crime: A New Frontier for
Transnational Criminal Organizations
The emergence of the Internet and of a global society linked together by high-speed
information networks has transformed the ways in which businesses, governments,
and individuals communicate and engage in commerce. Sellers on one side of the
world can now advertise directly to buyers on another side of the world. Sales and
financial transactions can take place instantaneously and anywhere there is an Internet
connection. And goods and services themselves are increasingly being delivered
digitally through the Internet. The benefits of these transformations for the global
economy, and ultimately for consumers, have been dramatic. At the same time, these
transformations have also given rise to a new set of dangers, as some of the same
technologies that enable people across the globe to connect instantaneously with one
another and exchange money or information also facilitate criminal exploitation:
• Dangers posed to our information systems and networks. Information systems
and networks serve as the primary platform for our digital economy, while at the
same time house the sensitive personal information of millions of consumers
and citizens. Highly vulnerable to intrusion and manipulation, these systems and
networks are regularly breached. As a result, millions have been subjected to
identity theft and fraud, to say nothing of the severe damage this causes to the
overall economy.
• Dangers stemming from consumer vulnerability in the online marketplace.
As consumer trust in online commerce has grown, so also has criminal interest in
exploiting that trust. The result is an explosion in Internet-reliant scams aimed at
defrauding unsuspecting consumers. Every year, thousands of Americans report
being victims of online marketing fraud schemes and suffering losses exceeding
tens of millions of dollars as a result.144 The losses of Californians are higher than
those of residents of any other state.145
• Dangers arising from Internet-enabled markets for illicit goods and content. The
Internet has helped foster new economic models fueling the sale and distribution of
counterfeit goods, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, pirated entertainment content, illegal
drugs, and child pornography. These markets not only enable criminals to profit
51
from illicit goods and content, but also further fuel the growth of the underlying illicit
activities. The Mexican Attorney General estimated in 2009 that the total revenues
from La Familia’s sophisticated network for distributing counterfeit movies, music,
and software could be more than $2 million a day.146
Eager to exploit these vulnerabilities in their quest for profit and power, organized crime
has developed increasingly sophisticated techniques and patterns of organization. The
result is a new generation of transnational criminal organizations that are more flexible,
decentralized, and global than ever before.
Transnational Criminal Organizations Are Targeting Information
Systems and Networks for Attack and Exploitation
The digital infrastructure upon which consumers, businesses, and government all rely to
store, process, and share information is highly vulnerable to attacks by sophisticated
assailants operating remotely. Once breached, this infrastructure affords assailants the
freedom to impersonate legitimate users, assume their privileges, and ultimately steal
from them. According to the White House, cybercrime “costs consumers billions of
dollars annually, threatens sensitive corporate and government computer networks, and
undermines worldwide confidence in the international financial system.”147
These dangers are particularly acute in California. By a large margin, California tops
all states in the number of hacked systems, the number of computer systems infected
by malware, the number of victims of Internet crimes, the losses suffered as a result of
those crimes, and the number of victims of identity fraud. In addition, because of the
outsized role new technologies and mass-media entertainment play in its informationbased economy, California is particularly vulnerable when its networks become
infected and its intellectual property is stolen.
In 2012, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse recorded at least 331 breaches in the
U.S. caused by criminals who were purposefully trying to compromise databases or
networks.148 Seventeen percent of these intentional breaches occurred in California
– a far higher percentage than in any other state – which, in turn, contributed to
putting at risk the sensitive personal information of at least 2.5 million Californians
that year.149 At the same time, 12.6 million U.S. adults – or 5.3 percent of the adult
population – became victims of identity fraud in 2012. Costs associated with this
pool of victims are estimated to be a staggering $21 billion.150
The data represented in Figure 27 shows that the problem is getting worse. Between
2009 and 2012, the number of intentional breaches in the U.S. jumped by 280
percent.151 With new breaches now numbering in the hundreds per year, the rate of
increase may be finally slowing, but it remains high. Between 2011 and 2012 alone,
52
Figure 27
Number of Intentional Data Breaches Designed to Compromise Systems
(2009-2012)
350
300
250
200
CA
US
150
100
50
0
2009
2010
2011
2012
Source: Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
the number of breaches rose by 32 percent nationwide and by 27 percent
in California, while the number of identity fraud victims in the U.S. increased by
8 percent.152
Information Systems and Networks Are Highly Vulnerable to Intrusion
and Exploitation
When cybercrime first emerged, it was mostly orchestrated by people with strong
technical skills who primarily wanted to enhance their reputation and popularity
within a relatively small hacker network.153 Those days are over. As the potential
profitability of cybercrime has become clearer, it has attracted a flood of individuals
and groups with more pecuniary motives.154
There are several ways in which criminals can engineer breaches of databases,
networks, and computer systems.
• In a phishing attack, a victim is tricked into giving an assailant system access by
being directed to a website that purports to be that of the victim’s financial institution.
This website asks the unsuspecting victim to enter his account number, username,
password, and other personal identification information. Although the website is
in fact a fake, the victim frequently complies with the request because the website
appears to be legitimate – complete with bank logos and legal disclaimers.
53
• An assailant may also trick a victim into installing malware – or malicious software
– on a targeted computer system. This malware is usually installed surreptitiously
after the victim is induced to click on an attachment or link embedded in an e-mail
message. In one recent case, an e-mail appeared as if it were from the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children.155 Once installed, malware can redirect
information within a system to the assailant’s computer. Some types of malware
can log a user’s keystrokes or record screen shots whenever a victim attempts to
connect to a targeted financial website and enter account information.156 Other
types are even more sophisticated. “Web injects” associated with the Gozi virus
and the Citadel botnet, for example, actually alter how the webpages of particular
banks appear on infected computers in order to trick a victim into divulging sensitive
information (Figure 28).157
Figure 28
Webpage Screen Shot of a “Web Inject”
Source: Microsoft Corporation
• “Skimming” is a type of attack that targets payment card networks in particular. It
involves the installation of devices at credit/debit card terminals (usually located at
gas stations or retail stores) that surreptitiously record card information as cards are
swiped and PINs entered (Figure 29).
54
Figure 29
Skimmer Placed in a Gas Station Payment Terminal in Martinez, CA
Source: Northern California Computer Crimes Task Force
• Less technologically sophisticated, breaches by insiders occur when insiders
abuse access privileges and supply sensitive information to criminals for a profit.
Many breaches caused by insiders are never detected.
Once a victim’s unique credentials are stolen, a criminal can use them to transact
business instantaneously and from anywhere in the world. Criminals can withdraw
cash, digitally transfer money to their own accounts, or purchase goods in exactly
the same way as the legitimate account holder. All of this can happen before a
victim even realizes his or her credentials have been stolen.
Because governments also rely heavily on unique identification numbers (e.g., Social
Security numbers) to assign benefits or process taxes, a wide range of fraud becomes
possible when government databases are breached or these numbers are otherwise
stolen. Successful schemes have included billing the government for medical services
never provided and pocketing another taxpayer’s refund.158 Through such high-tech
fraud, large sums of taxpayer money may be siphoned off to criminals and away from
its intended purposes.
Botnets Pose an Additional Risk to Information Systems and Networks
The threat posed by digital infrastructure vulnerability is not limited to identity theft and
associated fraud. Computer networks and systems themselves may also be hijacked
and used to launch attacks against additional computer systems. The principal way
in which this occurs is through a “botnet,” or a network of computers infected with
55
malicious software – usually without the knowledge of the end-user. Computers
may become infected when a user “inadvertently interacts with a malicious
website advertisement, clicks on a malicious e-mail attachment, or downloads
malicious software.”159 Once infected, “the malicious software establishes a
secret communications link to a remote ‘botmaster’ in preparation to receive new
commands to attack a specific target.”160 The computers can then be controlled by
the botmaster to “operate in concert to disrupt or block Internet traffic for targeted
victims, harvest information, or [] distribute spam, viruses, or other malicious
code.”161 Because of their versatility, botnets such as Citadel (Figure 33) have been
described as the “Swiss Army knives of the underground economy.”162 Moreover,
because Citadel and similarly dangerous botnets concentrate in areas with
substantial technology presence, California is uniquely affected. The Los Angeles
and Silicon Valley areas in particular have suffered significant infections by malware
linked to Citadel (Figure 30).
Figure 30
Hot Spot Locations of Malware Infections Linked to the Citadel Botnet
Source: Microsoft Corporation (2013)
56
By dramatically increasing the numbers of victims that can be targeted by a single
scheme, botnets are a game-changer for criminals. Botnets enable criminals to
launch millions of attacks against protected networks or computer systems and exploit
vulnerabilities within hours, if not minutes. This ability to exponentially expand the pool
of victims, in turn, can make otherwise unprofitable criminal strategies successful.163
Botnets significantly increase the profitability of any scheme that depends on taking
small amounts of money from large numbers of victims so as to avoid detection.164
In the same way, botnets increase the threat posed by transnational criminal
organizations exponentially by allowing perpetrators based outside the country to
reach out to millions of Americans at once through spam e-mail.165
Transnational Criminal Organizations Are Fueling the Epidemic
Not surprisingly, transnational organized crime has tapped into this new criminal
frontier. Cases strongly suggest that transnational criminal organizations are behind the
biggest schemes to breach systems and exploit captured identification credentials.
A particularly devastating phishing
operation involved an Egyptbased transnational criminal
organization that expanded
its operations into California.
The Egypt-based hackers used
phishing tactics to obtain bank
account numbers and related
identification of U.S. bank
customers. They then teamed
up with three California-based
individuals who supplied them
with California bank accounts to
which they could transfer stolen
funds.166 The individuals who
opened the California accounts
then withdrew these fraudulently
obtained funds, which were
eventually transferred to the
original hackers in Egypt.167
The multinational investigation
into this crime, dubbed
Operation Phish Phry, resulted in
charges against 53 defendants in
the U.S. (Figure 31). Most were
Figure 31
57
arrested and prosecuted in Southern California. Authorities in Egypt also charged
47 defendants linked to the scheme.168
In U.S. v. Drinkman (D.N.J. 2013), one of the largest hacking and data breach
cases ever, a confederacy of Eastern European criminals harvested over 160
million credit card numbers by attacking numerous companies around the world,
including national retailer Wet Seal, Inc., which is headquartered in California.169
Unique malware placed within the targeted payment networks allowed the
organization to capture payment card credentials and other information in real time
as the information moved through the network.170 The organization then sold the
credentials on the black market (priced at $10 for American credit card numbers
and $50 for European numbers) and the information was eventually used to make
counterfeit payment cards.171 Losses from the scheme totaled in the hundreds of
millions of dollars.172
In 2009, members of the Armenian Power transnational criminal organization
caused more than $2 million in losses when they installed skimming devices
at several 99¢ Only Stores in Southern California, and then used the skimmed
information to create counterfeit credit and debit cards.173
In the largest Medicare fraud scheme ever committed by a single enterprise and
criminally prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice, an Armenian-American
transnational criminal organization, the Mirzoyan-Terdjanian Organization, used
fraudulent Medicare billings to steal more than $163 million.174 After stealing
the identities of real doctors, the organization set up phony clinics and applied to
become Medicare providers. Once approved, the clinics used stolen information
from beneficiaries from around the country to bill Medicare for services never
provided. Although Medicare was able to identify and shut down many of the
fake clinics, they were promptly replaced by new ones, often in another state.175
In all, at least 118 bogus clinics were opened in 25 states.176 Many of the 73
defendants eventually prosecuted operated out of the Los Angeles area.177 As these cases suggest, transnational criminal organizations are leading efforts in
California to target information systems and networks to steal identification credentials
that can be converted into money. One of the largest global surveys on data breaches
has found that in 2012 organized criminal groups were responsible for at least 55
percent of all incidents of unauthorized access to confidential information of a business
or government entity by an external actor.178 Many of these criminal groups were
transnational criminal organizations operating out of Eastern Europe that targeted
businesses and governments in the U.S. and Western Europe.179
58
Transnational Criminal Organizations Are Uniquely Positioned
To Exploit High-Tech Criminal Opportunities
Like drug trafficking, high-tech crimes tend to be highly profitable – in many cases even
more so than trafficking. For example, DVDs containing pirated software can be
produced for just $0.50, but sold for more than $50.180 Credit card information
linked to personal information about the owner can be obtained for as little as $10
and then exploited to reap hundreds or even thousands of dollars’ worth of goods.
Yet, unlike drug trafficking, the risks to criminal organizations of much of this activity are
comparatively low.181 High-tech crimes are often extremely difficult to detect. And even
if prosecuted, offenders are likely to receive penalties that are lower by comparison to
violent crimes and drug trafficking.182
Transnational criminal organizations are uniquely able to exploit the opportunities
presented by the high-tech criminal frontier. Their ability to structure criminal activity
transnationally in many cases makes them virtually immune from arrest or prosecution
due to formidable obstacles that law enforcement often encounters when trying to
track perpetrators from one country into a foreign jurisdiction.
Transnational criminal organizations also have greater access to the expertise,
specialization, and coordination required to successfully pull off most high-tech crimes.183
And while in the past criminal cross-border cooperation was cumbersome, expensive,
and vulnerable to law enforcement, the Internet and other advances in high-speed
international communication have dramatically reduced these “transaction costs.” Now,
far-flung criminal network operatives can exploit new criminal opportunities from their
desktops without even having to leave their homes – let alone their home countries.184
Outsourcing of Specialized Services Is Making the Technology of
Cybercrime More Accessible
In the past, a criminal organization entering the cybercrime arena may have needed to
possess a fairly high level of computer hacking skills. But increasingly the specialization
needed to launch high-tech criminal attacks is being achieved by outsourcing –
specifically, by purchasing highly specialized services online from the “dark market.”
Clandestine websites offer virtually any service needed to perpetrate high-tech crime.
Pay-per-install services, for example, take malware and disseminate it by infecting
computer and Internet systems for a price as low as $100 per 1,000 downloads. (See
Figure 32.) Transnational criminal organizations are turning to this market with increasing
frequency precisely because of the diversity of specialized and competitively-priced
services offered. Buyers can even comparison shop to get the best price.185
59
Figure 32
Price List for Services Available on the “Dark Market”
Offering
Price
Malware installation (pay-per-install)
(targeting U.S.-based computers)
$100–150 (per 1,000 downloads)
Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attack
(1-hour)
(1-week)
$10
$150
Cheap e-mail spamming service
$10 (per 1 million e-mails)
ZeuS Botnet builder kit
$100
Purchase of botnet capable of launching
DDoS attack
$700
Hacking Email
(gmail.com account)
(corporate email account
$85–130
$500
Source: Max Goncharov, Russian Underground 101, Trend Micro Incorporated (2012)
This dark market offers hacking services that are not only highly specialized but that can
even be customized to the particular target of the criminal enterprise. This customization
promotes accessibility – particularly for non-specialists – and is enabling “a much wider
range of people to become [high-tech crime] offenders, not just those with a special gift
for computing.”186 In response to demand for these services, providers are offering ever
more sophisticated products. For example:
• Whether the service offered is a “distributed denial-of-service” attack, spamming, or
pay-per-install, multiple options exist on the dark market for tailoring the service to the
attacker’s specific needs. For example, a distributed denial-of-service attack, in which
a computer is used to attack a website by sending overwhelming data requests, is not
only available for purchase, but can be tailored to persist as long as one month and as
short as one hour.187
60
• Malware, botnets, and other products are increasingly being packaged with
“a high degree of after-sales service.”188 The creator of the Citadel botnet, for
example, uses a “customer relationship management” tool to communicate with
“customers” who purchased a botnet “builder kit” about “updates to Citadel code,
support with technical problems, and best practices in deploying, running, and
defending their Citadel botnets.”189 According to Microsoft, the Citadel creator is
“swift to add new features and fix bugs and has released multiple versions on a
fast schedule to provide the Citadel botnet operators with the latest updates.”190
In addition, the Citadel creator collaborates with customers, inviting them to suggest
new features and vote on which features should be implemented.191
Figure 33
Citadel Botnet Case
Source: Complaint, Microsoft Corp. v. John Does 1–82, No. 3:13-cv-319 (W.D.N.C. May 29, 2013)
61
Not Just About the Money
Although most transnational organized cyber attacks are motivated by money, some
appear to be triggered by malice or political ideology instead. While this small
category of actors lacks the greed for money generally associated with transnational
criminal organizations, these groups do share one important commonality: they
operate transnationally to commit crimes and cause millions of dollars in damages.
“Anonymous,” “Internet Feds,” and “LulzSec” are some of the groups that
have displayed such multifaceted motives. Beginning in late 2010, members of
Anonymous targeted the websites of Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal in retaliation
for those companies’ refusal to process donations to Wikileaks. By bombarding
them with distributed denial-of-service attacks, Anonymous was able to crash the
companies’ websites. In similar fashion, Anonymous temporarily brought down
websites used by the Algerian and Tunisian governments.
In the first half of 2011, the groups Internet Feds and LulzSec went on a global cyber
rampage by hacking into the computer systems of Fox Broadcasting Company, Nintendo,
the U.S. Senate, PBS, Sony, and the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles
Times, among many others. In addition to stealing confidential information from the
compromised servers, the attackers defaced websites and inserted a fake news article on
the website of PBS’s News Hour.
The attack on PBS was allegedly in retaliation for what was perceived as unfavorable
news coverage about Wikileaks. According to a court document revealed during the
2012 prosecution of the groups’ key members in the Central District of California,
LulzSec’s overall goal was to see the “raw, uninterrupted, chaotic thrill of entertainment
and anarchy” and to provide stolen personal information “so that equally evil people
can entertain us with what they do with it.”
These groups are not the only ones whose motives extend beyond money. Others include
anti-American hacker groups apparently originating from the Middle East. In September
2012, the “Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters” launched a series of denial-of-service
attacks against the websites of several major U.S. banks, allegedly out of indignation
at an anti-Islam online video mocking the Prophet Muhammad. And in early 2013 the
“Syrian Electronic Army” compromised the New York Times’ website and the Twitter feed
of the Associated Press, among others, again apparently out of political motives.
Sources: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, Six Hackers in the United States
and Abroad Charged for Crimes Affecting Over One Million Victims, news release (Mar. 6,
2012); Indictment at pp. 3-15, United States v. Mosegur, No. 1:11-cr-00666 (S.D.N.Y. Aug.
15, 2011); U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California, Second Member of Hacking
Group Sentenced to More Than a Year in Prison for Stealing Customer Information from Sony
Pictures Computers, news release (Aug. 8, 2013); Nicole Perlroth, Attacks on 6 Banks Frustrate
Consumers, New York Times (Sept. 30, 2012).
62
Emerging High-Tech Crime Trends
Fraud in the Online Marketplace
The shift toward selling and buying goods online is one of the most significant
transformations ushered in by the Internet. It would not be possible if consumers did
not trust that goods they purchased online would be reliably delivered days later.
But the same trust that helps fuel online commerce is also ripe for exploitation. One
industry estimate in 2009 suggested that various online scams swindled more than
$2 billion from U.S. companies and citizens.192
Criminals may trick a buyer into thinking he is part of a legitimate transaction. Once
the buyer has made a payment – often for a high-value item, such as a car – the
goods are never delivered.193 To enhance the con, the criminals may make it appear
as if a “third-party” agent is receiving the payment. These agents sometimes even
maintain websites with online delivery tracking systems.194
A related type of fraud dupes victims into thinking they can acquire a large sum of
money by paying a small amount in advance. Many Americans know this type of
fraud from having received an unsolicited e-mail from a well-connected person who
attempts to enlist them in a plot to smuggle millions of dollars out of Nigeria.195
The solicitor asks only that the victim pay a small amount – often for a bribe – to
secure a percentage of the millions in loot. Other versions of this fraud trick people
into believing they have won a lottery and promise delivery of the winnings once
the victim has paid the requisite taxes, legal fees, or escrow fees.196 While these
“advance fee” schemes have existed for decades, the Internet and other technologies
have helped expand their reach exponentially.197
Because it is estimated that only one percent of people or businesses need to be
duped for the fraud to be profitable, botnets frequently determine whether such
schemes succeed.198 For example, because most people no longer open – let alone
act on – the spam e-mail messages that underlie phishing attacks and mass-marketing
fraud, the profitability of these strategies is heavily dependent on whether huge
numbers of spam messages can be sent out in a short period of time.199 By employing
multitudes of computers to automatically send millions of such e-mails, botnets make
these schemes viable.200 In one mass-marketing fraud case, botnets were employed
to distribute spam aimed at fraudulently driving up the prices of certain stocks. Once
the stock prices rose, the chief organizer of the worldwide conspiracy sold the stocks
at the artificially inflated prices, reaping approximately $2.8 million.201
Data from the Internet Crime Complaint Center confirms that mass-marketing fraud
schemes continue to be both widespread and highly profitable. In 2012, for example,
thousands of Americans reported being victims of online auto fraud, with direct losses
63
Illegal Online Gambling
Debuting in the mid-1990s, online gambling illustrates the way in which transnational
criminal organizations have used the Internet and cross-border havens to transform
traditional criminal activity.
Last June, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California offered
details about one case, which appeared to employ a common model. The case
involved a transnational criminal organization that ran a corporation named
Macho Sports. Macho Sports operated several sports gambling websites hosted
on servers primarily located outside the U.S. The corporation was initially
registered in Panama and later moved to Peru in 2008, where it set up the
physical platform for its online gambling activities. California-based customers
connected to gambling accounts through Macho Sports websites to place bets,
while teams of “bookies” and “runners” in the Los Angeles and San Diego
areas were used by Macho Sports to recruit customers, pay off winning bets,
and collect on losing bets – sometimes violently. The enterprise earned millions
of dollars, which were then laundered through check-cashing businesses that
took part of the cut.
Sources: Jerome P. Bjelopera & Kristin M. Finklea, Organized Crime: An Evolving
Challenge for U.S. Law Enforcement, Congressional Research Service (2012), p. 11;
Indictment at pp. 2-6, United States v. Portocarrero et al., No. 3:13-cr-02196 (S.D.
Cal. June 13, 2013); U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California, Members
of International Sports Gambling Ring Charged with Racketeering and Extortion, news
release (June 19, 2013).
exceeding tens of millions of dollars.202 Online scams involving housing rentals,
timeshares, and various limited-time investment “opportunities” are also common,
causing millions of dollars in reported losses nationwide in 2012.203 According
to the Internet Crime Report, the losses Californians suffer as a result of these
crimes top by a large margin the losses reported in any other state.204
As with other types of cybercrime, fraudulent mass-marketing schemes are increasingly
perpetuated by transnational criminal organizations.205 Transnational criminal
organizations based in Romania, for example, have orchestrated two of the biggest
cases involving fraudulent online sales. In both cases, the Romanian organizations
advertised high-value items for sale online, using Internet auction sites popular with
64
Americans, such as eBay or Cars.com.206 The organizations instructed the buyers
where to wire payments. “Arrows,” U.S.-based accomplices recruited to retrieve those
payments, then transmitted the funds to Romania.207 Both schemes netted millions
of dollars, with the gains in one topping $10 million.208 Many “advance fee” fraud
scams have also been linked to West African transnational criminal organizations,209
whose loosely connected cells are located not only in Africa but around the world.210
And an Israel-based transnational criminal organization employed a lottery scam over
several years to defraud hundreds of U.S. victims, mostly elderly, out of approximately
$25 million.211
Counterfeit Goods and Pharmaceuticals
Online commerce not only makes it easier for consumers to shop and purchase goods,
but has also obviated the need for sellers targeting the U.S. market to be located in the
U.S. This, in turn, has created a significant regulatory hole, as government regulators
can no longer effectively regulate what consumers purchase simply by targeting the
U.S.-based entities that directly sell to consumers. Because of this regulatory hole,
myriad illicit markets have been able to emerge and thrive alongside online markets
for legitimate goods and services. Growth in the market for counterfeit goods and
pharmaceuticals has exploded as the Internet has helped link price-conscious consumers
in the U.S. with manufacturers in Asia that can produce increasingly sophisticated
goods at low cost. Other markets experiencing Internet-related growth involve illegal
drugs and child pornography. By directly linking suppliers to vast numbers of consumers
worldwide, online illicit markets help increase the profitability – and, therefore, the
growth – of criminal activity.
The new marketplace for counterfeit goods is dominated by transnational criminal
organizations. According to the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice
Research Institute (UNICRI), “[c]ounterfeiting and piracy have long presented a tempting
target market for organized criminals.” But especially in recent years, UNICRI notes,
transnational criminal organizations have moved “deliberately and in great numbers” to
grab control of supply chains and consolidate power over these rapidly growing black
markets.212 For example, Italian transnational criminal organizations like the Neapolitan
Camorra have long played a major role in the production and distribution of counterfeit
luxury goods. With the massive growth of Chinese manufacturing, Italian transnational
criminal organizations are adapting by increasingly partnering with Chinese criminal
enterprises.213 Pursuant to these partnerships, the Chinese enterprises manufacture the
products, while the Camorra sells and distributes them.214
Because the success of an Internet-based business model depends on attracting
sufficient numbers of customers to the counterfeiters’ websites, counterfeiters may
outsource their advertising work to specialized transnational criminal organization that
deploy botnets. These botnets help counterfeiters reach millions through spam e-mail
65
and the sophisticated manipulation of search engine results.215 The success of these
Internet-enabled counterfeiting networks has significant consequences. In the global
pharmaceutical market, for example, sales for legitimate businesses that play by
the rules decline, reducing incentives for expensive investments into potentially lifesaving drugs. In addition, since counterfeiters may dilute or misrepresent the active
ingredients in counterfeit pharmaceuticals, recipients may not get the treatment they
need, imperiling their health.216
Digital Piracy
Today, the Internet provides virtually unfettered access to a range of intellectual
property content. However, the creators of this content are also arguably more
vulnerable than ever to having their works stolen and distributed without their consent.
According to a recent study by the British brand-protection firm NetNames, the
amount of Internet traffic used for copyright infringement in North America, Europe,
and the Asia Pacific has grown nearly 160 percent from 2010 to 2012 and now
accounts for 24 percent of total Internet traffic.217 In 2011, it was estimated that more
than 17 percent of Internet traffic in the U.S. was infringing.218 While new digital
services for the authorized dissemination of music, film, television, and software have
proliferated,219 services facilitating illicit distribution continue to evolve and thrive.
Such services include cyber lockers, peer-to-peer networks, BitTorrent, streaming
websites, and literally hundreds of mobile applications.220 Another major source of
pirated content are China-based enterprises that produce and ship pirated DVDs with
packaging that is often “shockingly sophisticated and nearly indistinguishable from
legitimate product.”221 These developments, in turn, have fostered astonishing growth
in the global market for pirated digital content. For example, in 2011, the global
commercial value of pirated software is estimated to have reached $63.4 billion,
more than double what it was in 2003.222
Contrary to the myth that illicit distribution services are only interested in helping to
propagate content, these services are in fact primarily profit-driven. One business model
offers paid subscriptions for the pirated content. Another model offers the content free,
but profits by inducing consumers to click online ads. In either case, as consumers
use these piracy services to view content or download software, they siphon revenues
away from content creators and into the pockets of criminals. Given the importance
of the music, television, and film industries in California, the economic damage within
the state of such Internet-enabled digital piracy is disproportionately severe. While
estimates of exact losses vary greatly, there is little doubt that over the years digital
piracy has robbed creative industries based in California of hundreds of millions of
dollars in revenue and jobs.
In addition to depriving intellectual property creators of their earnings, a further threat
posed by the marketplace for digital piracy is the distribution of malware. More and
66
La Familia Michoacána Branches Into Counterfeit Software
One of the most alarming developments in piracy has been the entrance of some of
Mexico’s most dangerous transnational criminal organizations into the piracy market.
In March 2009, Mexican law enforcement cracked down on a counterfeit software
ring run by La Familia Michoacána out of the Mexican state of Michoacán. The ring
was producing counterfeit versions of software such as Microsoft Office and Xbox
video games, complete with “FMM” stamps (for “Familia Morelia Michoacana”) on
the disks. The New York Times reported that La Familia was distributing the software
“through thousands of kiosks, markets and stores in the region and demand[ing]
that sales workers meet weekly quotas.” Through sophisticated distribution networks
such as this, it was estimated by the Mexican Attorney General that La Familia was
potentially earning more than $2 million per day. How this figure has changed since
2009 is unknown.
Like La Familia, Los Zetas are widely reported to have counterfeiting operations within
many Mexican states. The Zetas imprint their unique stamp – either a “Z” or a bucking
bronco – on counterfeit CDs and DVDs they help produce and distribute.
Sources: Ashley Vance, Chasing Pirates: Inside Microsoft’s War Room, New York Times (Nov.
6, 2010); Francisco Gomez, Pirateria, el Otro Frente del Narco El Universal (Mar. 1, 2009),
http://www.eluniversal. com.mx/nacion/166099.html, accessed on Jan. 2, 2014; Patrick
Manner, Drug Cartels Take Over Mexican Black Market, Fox News Latino (Aug. 22, 2012);
Motion Picture Association of America.
67
more, pirated content – whether downloaded or on a physical disk – is “laced”
with malware that, once installed on a computer, can steal information or otherwise
compromise that system.223 According to McAfee, 12 percent of sites known to
distribute pirated content “are actively distributing malware to users who download
[the] content.” Moreover, some of these sites appear to “have associations with
known cyber crime organizations.”224
Virtual Currencies Offer New Tools for Money Laundering
New Internet-reliant technologies threaten to revolutionize the way in which
transnational criminal organizations finance their activities and launder their proceeds.
Until now, these organizations have had to sacrifice speed and profit margins in order to
transfer money securely and secretly. For example, to avoid the registration and reporting
requirements of banks and other international money transmitters, transnational criminal
organizations avoid digital bank transfers in favor of physically transporting cash in
bulk and participating in complicated trade-based money laundering schemes. These
schemes are not only slow and subject to law enforcement interdiction, but also involve
multiple “fees” to compensate launderers for their efforts and risk-taking. However, the
emergence of new technologies over the last few years hints at a future in which speed
and profit margins no longer need to be sacrificed in exchange for security and secrecy.
One example of these new technologies is the pre-paid, open-system stored-value cards
such as “Green Dot” cards. Prepaid open-system cards allow their holder to connect to
global debit and automated teller machine (ATM) networks. These prepaid cards often
do not require the cardholder to open a bank account or verify his or her identity.225 This
lack of an accountholder relationship, coupled with the fact that the cards are not subject
to any cross-border reporting requirements,226 can enable a cardholder to transfer an
unlimited amount of money across the global payment system anonymously.227
Perhaps the most notorious new technology in transnational criminal organization finance
is virtual currency, a category that includes e-Gold, Liberty Reserve, and Bitcoin, as well
as currencies used in online games that can be bought and exchanged for dollars.228
These currencies are “virtual” because they operate like currency within their designated
ecosystems, but lack the legal tender status of real currencies in any jurisdiction.229 Virtual
currencies can be used to quickly and confidently move illicit proceeds from one country
to another. And as long as the government is unable to link virtual currency accounts or
addresses to their owners, the identities of those sending and receiving the proceeds
are effectively shielded. According to the U.S. Secret Service, “[t]hese attributes make
[virtual] currencies a preferred tool of transnational criminal organizations for conducting
their criminal activities, transmitting their illicit revenue internationally, and laundering their
profits.”230 The following examples illustrate this trend.
68
e-Gold
Founded in 1996, e-Gold was a pseudonymous digital currency that was originally
backed with gold coins stored in a safe deposit box in Florida. To open an e-Gold
account, a person needed no more than a valid e-mail address. Once the account was
established and funded, the account holder “could gain access through the Internet
and conduct anonymous transactions with other e-Gold account holders anywhere in
the world.”231 As a result, e-Gold “quickly became the preferred financial transaction
method of transnational cyber criminals – particularly those involved in the trafficking
of stolen financial information and [personally identifiable information] of U.S. citizens
– and a tool for money laundering by cyber criminals.”232 At its peak, e-Gold moved
more than $6 million each day for more than 2.5 million accounts.233 In 2007, the
federal government shut down e-Gold. Its owners pleaded guilty to charges of money
laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.234
Liberty Reserve
Incorporated in Costa Rica in 2006, Liberty Reserve S.A. for years operated one
of the world’s most widely used virtual currencies. It provided what it described as
“instant, real-time currency for international commerce,” but it was
allegedly designed to intentionally help criminals conduct illegal transactions and
launder the proceeds of their crimes. In particular, it permitted users to conduct financial
transactions under multiple layers of anonymity.235
According to federal prosecutors, Liberty Reserve was one of the principal means by
which cyber criminals from around the world, including credit card thieves and computer
hacking rings, laundered their illicit proceeds.236 Liberty Reserve’s website offered a
“shopping cart interface” that “merchant” websites could use to accept Liberty Reserve
currency as payment.237 The “merchants” who accepted Liberty Reserve currency were
overwhelmingly engaged in criminal activities. They included traffickers in stolen credit
card data, computer hackers for hire, and underground drug-dealing websites.238
With an estimated one million users worldwide, and more than 200,000 in the
United States, Liberty Reserve processed more than 12 million financial transactions
annually, with a combined value of more than $1.4 billion.239 From 2006 to May
2013, Liberty Reserve is believed to have laundered in excess of $6 billion in
criminal proceeds.240
In May 2013, federal prosecutors in New York charged Liberty Reserve and its founders
with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, and conspiring to commit
money laundering.241 The principal founder, as well as two other defendants, are
pending extradition.242 Another defendant has entered a guilty plea and two others are
at large. The site has been shuttered and effectively put out of business.
69
Bitcoin and Silk Road
Unlike most other virtual currencies, such as e-Gold and Liberty Reserve, Bitcoin is a
decentralized digital-payments system. In other words, there is no centralized repository
or administrator who serves to mediate transactions. Instead, all users install the
open-source software on their computing devices, thereby creating a peer-to-peer
network through which Bitcoin transactions are conducted and bitcoin “balances”
are independently calculated. Significantly, Bitcoin transactions are possible from
anywhere in the world there is an Internet connection. They are irreversible once
conducted, and have few, if any, fees.
Figure 35
Screenshot of Illicit Drugs For Sale on Silk Road Website
Bitcoin was established in 2009 and its popularity has grown wildly in the past two
years. While its use in legitimate commerce is growing, its use in criminal financial
transactions was illustrated by its adoption as the exclusive payment mechanism for Silk
Road. Often referred to as the “eBay for drugs,” Silk Road was an anonymous online
market that sold everything from marijuana to prescription drugs to weapons (Figure 35).
According to the FBI, it was “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace
on the Internet.”243 One FBI inventory found 13,000 listings for controlled substances,
159 offerings for “services” (including a tutorial on hacking ATMs), as well as hundreds
of offerings of hacked accounts and counterfeit IDs.244 Between February 2011 and
July 2013, this “dark market” served more than 100,000 customers and facilitated
approximately $1.2 billion worth of transactions.
70
Catching Up With Bitcoin
Ever since Bitcoin’s emergence in 2009, businesses, government regulators, and
criminals have all wondered how best to characterize it. Is it money? A security? Or
perhaps it is better understood as a commodity? The answer to this question has
significant real-world implications, basically determining what regulations – including
disclosure requirements – apply to the entities that use and transmit it.
Under guidance issued by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes
Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the federal Bank Secrecy Act and its various
registration, record-keeping, and reporting requirements can apply to businesses that
transmit not only real currency, but also “other value that substitutes for currency,”
such as Bitcoin. FinCEN guidance from March and December 2013 further clarified
the scope of this regulation, explaining that any entity that serves as a digital currency
administrator or as an intermediary for digital currency transmission is a money
transmitter. Consequently, such entities are subject to FinCEN regulations, including
its anti-money laundering compliance protocols and state licensure. Reflecting the
significance of these regulations, U.S.-based entities that have attempted to skirt
them have been shut down. For example, in May 2013, federal authorities seized a
U.S. subsidiary of a leading Japanese-based Bitcoin exchange service, Dwolla, on
the ground that it was operating as an unlicensed money transmitter. Despite these
actions, hearings held over the last few months by the U.S. Senate and New York’s
top financial regulator underscore that real concerns remain about the best way to
address the money laundering threat posed by Bitcoin.
In California, special state laws that protect against money laundering also
have a clear role to play in curbing misuse of Bitcoin. In fact, there is a strong
argument that the California Money Transmission Act already applies to
businesses that electronically exchange and transmit Bitcoin because Bitcoin
is “a medium of exchange.” What is certain is that, if transnational criminal
organizations turn to Bitcoin to launder their illicit proceeds from the state,
regulatory scrutiny will intensify.
Sources: 31 C.F.R. § 1010.100(ff); U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes
Enforcement Network, Guidance on the Application of FinCEN’s Regulations to
Persons Administering, Exchanging, or Using Virtual Currencies (Mar. 18, 2013), FIN2013-G001; Seizure Warrant, In Matter of Seizure of One Dwolla Account Case, No.
13-1162 (D. Md. 2013).
71
In October 2013, the federal government shut down Silk Road, arrested the principal
operator – a U.S. citizen living in the Bay Area – and charged him with narcotics
trafficking, computer hacking, and money laundering, among other crimes.245 Top
sellers and significant users in other locations around the world were also arrested.
Most recently, in January 2014, federal authorities arrested a co-founder and chief
executive of one of the Internet’s most popular bitcoin-dollar exchangers for conspiring
to sell and launder over $1 million in bitcoins in connection with Silk Road drug
purchases.246 Nonetheless, attempts to resurrect Silk Road continue.
Conclusion
As information systems and networks, consumer bank accounts, and digital content
have all become vulnerable to high-tech exploitation, organized crime has evolved
to seize new profit opportunities. In this new world, identification credentials and
intellectual property have become the primary targets for illicit acquisition and
distribution, criminals can purchase data and highly specialized skills from each other
on the “dark market,” and cutting-edge technologies enable transnational criminal
organizations to evade detection and protect their illicit gains from law enforcement
authorities in ways that are still not adequately understood.
72
Chapter Six
Recommendations
Trafficking
Recommendation
The Legislature should amend California law to target the leaders of
transnational criminal organizations operating in California.
California has no statutory authority that specifically targets or punishes supervisors,
managers or financers who conduct operations locally on behalf of transnational
criminal organizations. Currently, high-level prison or street gang members who supervise, manage, or finance their local gang associates in the distribution and retail sales
of drugs are treated as “co-conspirators” or “aiders and abettors” of their underlings
and foot soldiers. However, other states and the federal government have enacted laws
that increase the punishment and seize the working capital of the prison or street gang
leaders who work on behalf of drug trafficking organizations.
For example, Congress enacted the Continuing Criminal Enterprise Act (Criminal Enterprise Act)247 in an effort to combat drug cartels by directly attacking their leadership.248
Under the Criminal Enterprise Act (21 U.S.C. §848), a director of an illegal criminal
organization may be sentenced to prison for not less than twenty years to life without
the possibility of parole.249 In addition to lengthy incarceration, the Criminal Enterprise
Act authorizes the seizure of the director or manager’s ill-gotten monetary gains,250 thus
depriving the criminal organization of its working capital. And in statehouses, Maryland
and New Jersey passed laws similar to the Criminal Enterprise Act to increase the criminal liability of large-scale narcotics operators beyond that of their “employees.”251
To more effectively combat transnational criminal organizations and their criminal gang
associates, the California Legislature should broaden existing law to increase criminal
penalties for organizers, supervisors, managers or financers of criminal enterprises. This
could be accomplished by amending current law to include a Criminal Enterprise Act
and to increase potential sentences and fines. By doing so, law enforcement can more
effectively target the “shot-callers” of these criminal organizations and destabilize their
operations.
73
Recommendation
Federal, state, and local law enforcement should use California’s State Threat
Assessment System as a central hub for sharing information about transnational
crime.
California lacks a unified system for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information about transnational organized crime. Police departments and task forces regularly
maintain data related to the activities of known organized crime figures, but such data
is rarely shared outside that immediate county or affected region. California’s State
Threat Assessment System (STAS) is uniquely positioned to act as the central hub for
California’s transnational crime information-sharing needs. The STAS already provides
critical tactical and strategic intelligence about trends and emerging patterns relating to
criminal activity statewide and ensures first responders and policymakers are provided
with timely, accurate, and relevant situation awareness about transnational criminal
tactics and techniques. In coordination with the Attorney General’s Office, California’s
tribal, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies should partner with the STAS
to develop a platform to share information about transnational criminal organizations
across the state.
Recommendation
Federal, state, and local authorities should establish a unified maritime task
force and associated radar network to counter maritime smuggling operations
along California’s coastline.
Various local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies coordinate their activities
to interdict maritime smuggling operations along California’s coast. These partnerships
are often regional in nature and are typically established on an as-needed basis. California needs a new multi-jurisdictional Maritime Task Force – that leverages expertise at
the federal, state and local levels – to combat the threat along its coastline, especially
from panga vessel smuggling, and to coordinate strategy between affected counties.
In addition to the creation of the Maritime Task Force, California should work with federal agencies to implement a network of high-intensity radar stations, sonar buoys, or
other appropriate and effective technologies strategically located along the coast, like
the large radar receiver recently placed at Carlsbad’s Ponto Beach by federal officials,
to better detect maritime threats and coordinate law enforcement responses.
74
Recommendation
The Legislature and Governor should fund five additional Special Operations
Units across California.
Transnational crime involves an increasingly decentralized array of international and
domestic criminal actors conducting a range of trafficking, financial, and high-tech
crimes. The sophisticated nature of these groups and their criminal activities requires an
equally sophisticated and coordinated law enforcement response.
The multi-million dollar budget cuts in 2011 to the California Department of Justice’s
Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement resulted in cutbacks to numerous task forces and special
operations units (“SOUs”) across the state focused on drug-trafficking organizations and
violent gangs. Despite these cuts, the one remaining SOU, operating out of Fresno, has
been successful in combatting cartel and gang activity in the Central Valley. For example, in June 2011, the Fresno SOU completed a six-month investigation involving high
ranking members of the Nuestra Familia prison gang and various Norteño street gangs
that were selling cartel-supplied drugs in Merced and Madera counties.252 The investigation led to the arrest of 101 suspects and the seizure of 27 weapons and $6.6 million in
U.S. currency. Building off this crackdown, the Fresno unit opened 23 additional investigations and closed 14 of them in 2012 and 2013. During these investigations, agents
debriefed informants and cooperators and learned that Nuestra Familia was working
with Mexican drug cartels, including La Familia Michoacana and the New Milenio Cartel (an off-shoot of Sinaloa), to distribute drugs in the Central Valley, provide protection on
the street and in prison, and even commit fire bombings and murders.253
Given the success of the Fresno SOU, California would benefit greatly from adding a SOU
in each of the Division of Law Enforcement’s regional offices in Sacramento, San Francisco,
Riverside, Los Angeles, and San Diego. With a relatively modest total budget of $7.5 million, these five new teams would help local and federal authorities build cases against the
most dangerous transnational criminal organizations operating in California.
Recommendation
The federal government should continue providing critical funding to support
state and local law enforcement agencies in investigating and dismantling
trafficking organizations.
In California, methamphetamine trafficking has reached staggering levels. The overwhelming
majority of the foreign supply of methamphetamine flows through California’s port-of-entry
border in San Diego. Amongst the U.S. states that share a border with Mexico, methamphetamine seizures in California dwarf the seizures of our sister states by a factor of five.
75
Based on the advocacy of the California Attorney General’s Office and other state and
national law enforcement leaders, Congress appropriated $7.5 million in January 2014
for state law enforcement grants to be administered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office to target methamphetamine production and trafficking. These funds will help state law enforcement agencies directly combat
one of the most lucrative and dangerous activities perpetrated today by transnational
criminal organizations. In California, which suffers disproportionately from foreign- and
domestic-refined methamphetamine trafficking by drug cartels, grant funds will support
close collaboration between the California Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement and local agencies in investigating and dismantling the organizations behind
the methamphetamine epidemic in the hardest-hit and underserved communities. But,
sustained funding is crucial to law enforcement’s ability to make a lasting impact against
methamphetamine trafficking. Congress is preparing to consider appropriations for Fiscal
Year 2015, and it should continue to fund at or above current levels the resources for this
critical federal methamphetamine grant program.
Of equal importance is the restoration of federal funds for other task forces focused
on combatting transnational criminal organizations. For several years, federal funding
through the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program (“Byrne JAG”) has enabled the
California Department of Justice to lead task forces across the state composed of
federal, state, and local law enforcement. In California, the Board of State and Community Corrections administers the distribution of Byrne JAG funding. For California’s
2013-2014 Fiscal Year, the Board awarded the Department of Justice $2.1 million,
which helped support 17 joint state-local task forces. However, this represents a 46
percent reduction from the $3.9 million in funding awarded to the Department of
Justice in Fiscal Year 2009-2010. Because of the critical role played by these highly
trained joint state-local task forces in responding to drug trafficking activities, the Board
should fully restore funding for these task forces at their 2009-2010 level.
Recommendation
Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies should increase operational
coordination in combatting transnational criminal organizations.
Given the international scope of trafficking networks, local, state and federal law enforcement
agencies in California must coordinate to combat major transnational criminal organizations
such as the Sinaloa cartel. This coordination should be focused on operations and capacity
building.
Operational coordination allows law enforcement agencies to better utilize limited
resources and leverage prosecutorial authority under state and federal law. Potential
76
projects could include: (1) improvements to intelligence exchange and information sharing involving state task forces and federally-sponsored HIDTA teams; (2) partnerships
between state law enforcement officials and the National Park Service and U.S. Forest
Service to combat marijuana cultivation on public land; and (3) coordination between
state and federal public health and corrections officials to reduce demand for drugs trafficked by transnational criminal organizations.
In addition to operational coordination, capacity building is essential to ensure that
expertise is developed to combat transnational criminal organizations. Thus, state
officials should support existing federal government programs designed to enhance
Mexico’s capacity to combat transnational crime. The foundation for this cooperation
was laid in August 2013 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between
the California Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. This agreement provides the framework for
cooperation between California and the State Department on training and advising foreign
legal personnel, and on assisting judicial reform and police training initiatives in other countries.
High-Tech Crime
Recommendation
State and local authorities should develop public-private partnerships to
leverage technology against transnational crime.
Because it is so often targeted by transnational criminal schemes, the private sector
is usually the best source of information about high-tech threats. Additionally, in the
realm of technology, the private sector is often in a better position than government to
develop tools and techniques to combat criminal activity, especially new and emerging schemes used by transnational criminal organizations. Law enforcement should find
ways to take advantage of the resources available in the private sector to develop new
and innovative ways of countering ever-changing criminal threats and tactics.
Recommendation
Business should adopt industry best practices designed to protect against cybercrime.
Lax cybersecurity practices, or the lack of any protections whatsoever, allow far too
many breaches of computer networks and databases to happen in California, resulting in billions of dollars in economic losses. To help guide businesses and other entities
throughout the state, the California Department of Justice earlier this year released Cybersecurity in the Golden State (http://oag.ca.gov/cybersecurity), a report exploring the serious
cyber-threats facing business and offering them practical guidance on how to minimize cyber
77
vulnerabilities. All entities, public and private, doing business in California should assume they
are a target and consider and adopt the industry best practices identified in that report.
Money Laundering
Recommendation
The Legislature should amend California law to enable prosecutors to
temporarily freeze the assets of transnational criminal organizations and
their gang associates before the filing of an indictment.
There is currently no provision in California law for the seizure of criminal proceeds
and assets to prevent their dissipation prior to the filing of a criminal case or, in drug
cases, prior to the filing of a civil asset forfeiture petition.254 California law should be
modified to allow for pre-indictment freezing of a transnational criminal organization’s
illicit proceeds or property to prevent their dissipation or disbursement. The ease with
which money laundered in California is returned to Mexico via electronic or physical
transportation often outpaces the ability of prosecutors to commence criminal proceedings to freeze transnational criminal organization assets.
Unlike California law, federal law authorizes a pre-indictment seizure of assets and
property with or without prior notice.255 The prosecution can request a temporary
restraining order without notice if it can establish probable cause that, upon conviction,
the property will be subject to forfeiture, and that notice will jeopardize the availability
of the property for future forfeiture.256 Alternatively, a federal prosecutor can request a
noticed hearing where he or she must demonstrate that there is a substantial probability that the government will prevail on the issue of forfeiture, failure to allow seizure will
result in the property being destroyed or removed from the jurisdiction, and the need to
preserve the seized property outweighs the hardship on the opposing party.257
California prosecutors should be given equal authority to preserve assets and property prior to filing criminal cases. This could be accomplished by amending existing
law by expanding the class of transnational “profiteering” activities subject to seizure.
Preservation of such assets would, for example, assist in the recovery of the costs of
disposing of toxic waste from, and cleaning up of sites damaged by, clandestine methamphetamine conversion labs. Lacking this authority, a transnational criminal organization’s assets can quickly be removed from California prior to the commencement of
formal legal proceedings.
78
Recommendation
The Legislature should strengthen California’s prohibition against financial
transaction “structuring.”
Federal law requires financial institutions to report to financial regulators all currency
transactions over $10,000, as well as multiple currency transactions that aggregate
over $10,000 in a single day.258 Federal law makes it a crime to break up or “structure” financial transactions into amounts smaller than $10,000 for the purpose of
avoiding the mandatory reporting requirements.259 Federal law does not require that
the structured transactions be intended to hide the fact that money came from criminal
activities or to facilitate criminal activities.260 The mere structuring of financial deposits, coupled with notice of the reporting requirements, is sufficient to charge a money
launderer with a federal financial crime.
By contrast, California’s laws require state prosecutors to prove a money launderer
intentionally structured a financial transaction to disguise that the proceeds were derived
from a criminal activity or, alternatively, were structured to promote or further criminal
activity.261 Requiring a prosecutor to establish a defendant’s subjective intent in a
structuring case enables transnational criminal organizations to conduct unmonitored
transactions and launder their money with a reduced risk of state criminal liability.
California’s anti-structuring statute should be amended so that breaking up financial
transactions into smaller amounts for the purpose of avoiding the reporting requirements is, in and of itself, a criminal act.
Recommendation
California prosecutors need advanced training to combat sophisticated
transnational money laundering schemes.
Significant budget reductions have curtailed the investigatory and prosecutorial capacities
of law enforcement agencies to combat transnational crime. Meanwhile, transnational
criminal organizations have employed increasingly sophisticated schemes to launder
their illicit profits. These emerging schemes require prosecutors to dissect complex international trade transactions and finance mechanisms in order to demonstrate criminal
liability and successfully dismantle criminal organizations and syndicates.
The Department of Justice should leverage existing resources and partnerships to provide advanced training and technical assistance to prosecutors investigating complex
money laundering schemes. Such training will expand the pool of trained and experi-
79
enced prosecutors in the fight against organized crime in California and enhance our
ability to disrupt this criminal activity.
Recommendation
State authorities should partner with their Mexican counterparts to share
intelligence and disrupt the illicit flow of money across the border.
Emerging money laundering strategies by Mexico-based transnational criminal organizations include the use of non-bank financial institutions such as money transmitters
to deposit and transfer illicit funds into the financial system. Unregistered money
transmitting businesses, which mask that they are in the business of transferring funds
through the international financial system, present a challenge for tracking and prosecuting money laundering transactions.262 For example, financial crime investigators
have observed individuals who claim to be agents or employees of licensed money
services businesses operating along the California-Mexico border entering California
from Mexico with satchels full of bulk cash.263 The investigators need to have available
to them in real time an up-to-date database of registered agents and employees of
California-licensed money service businesses and would benefit from having similar
information available from money services businesses operating in Mexico.264
Bilateral anti-money laundering initiatives are underway in the U.S. and Mexico. For
example, in October 2013, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)
reached an agreement with Mexico’s National Banking and Securities Commission to
share information related to their respective responsibilities on fighting money laundering.265 Reportedly, this marks the first time that FinCEN has entered a relationship with
a regulator outside the U.S. to share information.266
Given California’s pivotal role in cross-border transnational money laundering activities
involving Mexico, California financial regulators and law enforcement officials should
similarly partner with Mexico’s Banking and Securities Commission to share intelligence
in a timely manner about the methods, modus operandi, and trends and routes used
by criminal organizations operating between California and Mexico and cross-border
currency flows. California and Mexico should incorporate the latest technology to
collect, analyze, and disseminate critical financial intelligence, including cross-border
wire transactions.267
80
Endnotes
Introduction
Andre Standing, Transnational Organized Crime and the Palermo Convention: A
Reality Check (December 2010), International Peace Institute, p. 2.
2
U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, The Economic Impact
of Illicit Drug Use on American Society, 2011 (Apr. 2011), p. ix, 2011-Q0317002, http://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs44/44731/44731p.pdf.
1
Chapter 1
National Security Council, Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime:
Definition, http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/nsc/transnationalcrime/definition, accessed on Feb. 5, 2014.
4
Id.
5
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Digest of Organized Crime Cases
(2012), p. 13.
6
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2010), p. 3.
7
U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, National Drug Threat
Assessment 2013 (May 2013), p. v.
8
Bruce Bagley, Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime in the Americas: Major Trends
in the Twenty-First Century (Aug. 2012), Woodrow Wilson International Center for
Scholars, Latin American Program, p. 8.
9
Id.; Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, Organized Crime And Terrorist
Activity in Mexico, 1999-2002 (Feb. 2003), p. 3, http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/
pdf-files/OrgCrime_Mexico.pdf.
10
June S. Beittel, Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the
Violence, Congressional Research Service (Apr. 15, 2013), pp. 11-12.
11
Id. at p. 3; Scott Stewart, The Real ‘El Chapo’, Stratfor: Global Intelligence (Nov.
1, 2012), http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/real-el-chapo.
12
Id. at p. 11; Samuel Logan, Tracking the Sinaloa Federation’s International Presence, InSight Crime (Apr. 30, 2013), http://www.insightcrime.org/news-analysis/
tracking-the-sinaloa-federations-international-presence#ft30.
13
Interview with Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Gang Expert (Oct. 22, 2013).
3
81
Id.
Hans Johnson & Marisol Cuellar Mejia, Immigrants in California (May 2013), http://ppic.org/main/publication_show.asp?i=258, accessed on February 7,
2014.
16
California Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement, Bureau of
Investigation, Organized Crime in California 2010 Report, pp. 31-34; James
Finchenauer, Russian Organized Crime in the United States, National Institute of
Justice, http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/218560.pdf.
17
California Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement, Bureau of
Investigation, Organized Crime in California 2010 Report, pp. 14-15.
18
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Transnational Organized Crime in
Central America and the Caribbean: A Threat Assessment (Sept. 2012), p. 27,
http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/Studies/TOC_Central_
America_and_the_Caribbean_english.pdf.
19
Id. at p. 28.
14
15
Chapter 2
20
21
22
23
24
25
82
U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, Situation Report: Cities
Where Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations Operate Within the United States (April
2010), pp. 5-6, http://info.publicintelligence.net/NDIC-Cartels-in-US-Cities.pdf.
California Department of Justice, The State of Human Trafficking in California (Nov.
2012), p. 3, https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/pdfs/ht/human-trafficking-2012.pdf;
Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, A Serious Problem - Around the World
and in the USA, http://castla.org/key-stat, accessed on Feb. 6, 2014.
The White House, Office of National Drug Control Policy, State Profile, California
Drug Control Update (Jan. 15, 2012), http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/
files/docs/state_profile_-_california_0.pdf, accessed on Feb. 6, 2014.
U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, National Drug Threat
Assessment Summary (2013), p. 11.
Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris: DOJ Takes
Down $2 Million Drug Operation in Sacramento County (June 20, 2013),
https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-kamala-d-harris-dojtakes-down-2-million-drug-operation.
U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat
Assessment 2011 (Aug. 2011), p. 30; Tim McGirk, Mexican Drug Cartels Set Up
Shop in California Parks, Time Magazine (Aug. 22, 2009), http://content.time.
com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1917547,00.html; National Drug Intelligence
Center, Marijuana and Methamphetamine Trafficking on Federal Lands Threat Assessment (Feb. 2005), http://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs10/10402/marijuan.
htm, accessed on Feb. 6, 2014.
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
U.S. Department of Justice, Central Valley California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Marijuana Production in California (June 4, 2010), p. 4, http://www.
slocounty.ca.gov/Assets/DAS/DAAB/Marijuana_Production_in_California.pdf,
accessed on Aug. 5, 2013; Jerome Adamstein, Environmental impact of marijuanagrowing in California, L.A. Times (Dec. 22, 2012), http://framework.latimes.
com/2012/12/22/environmental-impact-of-marijuana-growing-california/#/0.
Tim McGirk, Mexican Drug Cartels Set Up Shop in California Parks, Time
Magazine (Aug. 22, 2009), http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/
0,8599,1917547,00.html.
Interview with Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Gang Expert (Oct. 22, 2013).
U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug Threat
Assessment 2011 (Aug. 2011), p. 30; Office of the Attorney General, Organized
Crime in California, 2010 Annual Report to the Legislature, at p. 24, http://oag.
ca.gov/sites/all/files/pdfs/publications/org_crime2010.pdf.
Id.; National Methamphetamine & Pharmaceuticals Initiative, Meth Update: Status
and Factors Affecting the U.S. (July 2013), pp. 3-5, accessed on Aug. 5, 2013;
Jill Reploge and Fronteras, San Diego Cracks Down on Mexican Meth, Seizures
Expected to Surpass 2012 Records, PBS Newshour (Aug. 6, 2013), http://www.
pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2013/08/san-diego-biggest-entry-point-for-mexicanmeth.html.
National Methamphetamine & Pharmaceuticals Initiative, Meth Update: Status and
Factors Affecting the U.S. (July 2013), pp. 1-2; United Nations, Office on Drugs
and Crime, Transnational Organized Crime in Central America and the Caribbean:
A Threat Assessment (Sept. 2012), p. 44, http://www.unodc.org/documents/
data-and-analysis/Studies/TOC_Central_America_and_the_Caribbean_english.pdf,
accessed on Aug. 6, 2013.
Associated Press, State Agents Arrest 4 in Drug Cartel Investigation (Oct. 9, 2013),
available at: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/10/09/state-agents-arrest4-in-drug-cartel-investigation/.
John Coté, San Jose Meth Bust: 750 Lbs, San Francisco Chronicle (Mar. 4,
2012), available at: http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/San-Jose-meth-bust750-lbs-3379571.php.
Interview with a Deputy District Attorney in the Santa Clara County District
Attorney’s Office (Oct. 23, 2013).
Id.
San Diego Regional Pharmaceutical Narcotic Enforcement Team (RxNET), Annual
Report (2012), p. 7; Monica Garske and Tony Shin, Dangerous ‘Pharma-Cartels’
Trafficking Painkillers’ (Oct. 24, 2012), http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/
local/Dangerous-Pharma-Cartels-Trafficking-Painkillers-172774811.html.
San Diego Regional Pharmaceutical Narcotic Enforcement Team (RxNET), Annual
Report (2012), p. 7.
83
Id. at p. 10.
Id.
40
Id. at p. 11.
41
Id.
42
Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces
Dismantling of International Prescription Drug Trafficking Scheme (Aug. 19, 2011),
http://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-kamala-d-harris-announcesdismantling-international.
43
Id.
44
Id.
45
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report 2013 (May
2013), p. 37, http://www.unodc.org/unodc/secured/wdr/wdr2013/World_
Drug_Report_2013.pdf, accessed on Aug. 6, 2013; Bruce Bagley, Drug
Trafficking and Organized Crime in the Americas: Major Trends in the Twenty-First
Century, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Latin American
Program (Aug. 2012), p. 2.
46
U.S. Department of Justice, Trafficking in Persons Report: Introduction (June 2013),
p. 7, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210737.pdf.
47
California Department of Justice, The State of Human Trafficking in California (November 2012), p. 63, https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/pdfs/ht/human-trafficking-2012.pdf; International Labour Office, Special Action Programme to Combat
Forced Labour, ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour (June 2012), http://www.ilo.
org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@ed_norm/@declaration/documents/publication/
wcms_182004.pdf.
48
California Department of Justice, The State of Human Trafficking in California
(November 2012), p. 3, https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/pdfs/ht/
human-trafficking-2012.pdf.
49
Id. at p. 47.
50
Id. at p. 52.
51
Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Announces
Sentencing in Transnational Human Trafficking Ring (May 24, 2013), https://oag.
ca.gov/news/press-releases/attorney-general-kamala-d-harris-announcessentencing-transnational-human.
52
U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,
Project Gunrunner Fact Sheet, http://www.atf.gov/publications/factsheets/
factsheet-project-gunrunner.html, accessed on Feb. 7, 2014.
53
Id.; Luis Astorga, Arms Trafficking from the United States to Mexico: Divergent
Responsibilities (Mar. 2010), International Drug Policy Consortium, IDPC Policy
Briefing, p. 2.
38
39
84
Juan Carlos Garzon, et al., The Criminal Diaspora: The Spread of Transnational
Organized Crime and How to Contain its Expansion (2013), p. 7,
http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/CRIMINAL_DIASPORA%20
%28Eng%20Summary%29_0.pdf.
55
Colby Goodman & Michel Marizco, U.S. Firearms Trafficking to Mexico: New
Data and Insights Illuminate Key Trends and Challenges (Sept. 2010), Woodrow
Wilson International Center for Scholars, Mexico Institute, at p. 192,
http://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/Chapter%206-%20U.S.%20Firearms%20Trafficking%20to%20Mexico,%20New%20Data%20and%20Insights%20
Illuminate%20Key%20Trends%20and%20Challenges.pdf.
56
U.S. Department of the Treasury, (Dec. 2005), Tables 8 and 9,
www.treasury.gov/resource-center/terrorist-illicit-finance/Documents/mlta.pdf,
accessed on Aug. 8, 2013.
57
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, United States of America-Mexico Bi-National
Criminal Proceeds Study, (June 2010), www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/
cne-criminalproceedsstudy.pdf, accessed on Feb. 7, 2014; U.S. Department of the
Treasury, U.S. Money Laundering Threat Assessment (Dec. 2005), p. 33, www.
treasury.gov/resource-center/terrorist-illicit-finance/Documents/mlta.pdf.
58
Brien, et al., A Bilateral Study on Money Laundering in the United States and Mexico (May 2011), Columbia School of International and Public Affairs and Global
Financial Integrity, ¶¶ 62-63, www.sipa.columbia.edu/academics/workshops/
documents/RevisedReport/May24.pdf.
59
Financial Action Task Force, www.Fatf-gafi.org.
60
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, United States of America-Mexico BiNational Criminal Proceeds Study, (June 2010), www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/
cne-criminalproceedsstudy.pdf.
61
CA Pen. Code, § 186.10.
62
CA Health & Safety Code, §§ 11370.6, 11370.9.
63
31 U.S.C. § 5313, and regulations thereunder.
64
31 U.S.C. § 5324; CA Pen. Code, § 14166.
65
31 U.S.C. § 5324, subd. (a)(3).
66
CA Pen. Code, § 14166.
67
GDP is a measure of a country’s economic output as measured by the market value
of all goods and services produced in a country. See U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Charting International Labor Comparisons (Sept. 2012), p. 13.
68
U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, The Buck Stops Here: Improving U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Practices: 2013 Senate Report (Apr. 2013), p. 11.
69
Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, Numbers in the News (July
2013), at p. 1, www.ccsce.com/PDF/numbers-July-2013-CA-Economy-Rankings2012.pdf.
54
85
70
71
72
73
74
75
U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, The Buck Stops Here:
Improving U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Practices: 2013 Senate Report (Apr. 2013),
p. 11, citing National Drug Intelligence data; Brien, et al., A Bilateral Study on
Money Laundering in the United States and Mexico (May 2011), Columbia School
of International and Public Affairs and Global Financial Integrity, p. 4.
El Paso Intelligence Center, National Seizure System, Nationwide Bulk Cash
Seizures, FOIA 14-00002-F (Jan. 1, 2008 – Dec. 31, 2012).
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Advisory:
Newly Released Mexican Regulations Imposing Restrictions on Mexican Banks for
Transactions in U.S. Currency (June 21, 2010), www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/
guidance/pdf/fin-2010-a007.pdf.
Interview with Special Agent Ernesto Limon, California Department of Justice, California Anti-Money Laundering Alliance (Sept. 2013); Interview with New Mexico
Money Laundering Task Force Investigator (Aug. 2013), Interview with Chula Vista
Police Department, TEAM ONE, Task Force Investigator (Sept. 2013).
Id.
Southwest Border Anti-Money Laundering Alliance, About Us,
http://www.swballiance.org/about-us/, accessed on Feb. 18, 2014.
Chapter 3
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
National Gang Intelligence Center, National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging
Trends (2011), pp. 9, 15.
Id. at pp. 9, 11, 15.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Gang Homicides – Five U.S. Cities,
2003-2008 (Jan. 27, 2012), http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/
mm6103a2.htm?s_cid=mm6103a2_w.
Id.
California Department of Alcohol & Drug Programs, Facts and Figures On Alcohol
and Other Drugs (Sept. 2006).
Id.
Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy (2013), p. 59, http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/southwestborder.
Juan Carlos Garzon, et al., The Criminal Diaspora: The Spread of Transnational
Organized Crime and How to Contain its Expansion (2013), at p. 4, http://
www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/CRIMINAL_DIASPORA%20%28Eng%20
Summary%29_0.pdf.
June S. Beittel, Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the
Violence (April 15, 2013), Congressional Research Service, at p. 23.
Id. at p. 1.
Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, Suspects
Arrested in Murder-for-Hire Plot Commissioned by Mexican Drug Cartel (Feb. 17,
2011), https://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/suspects-arrested-murder-hireplot-commissioned-mexican-drug-cartel.
87
Daniel Borunda, Barrio Azteca threat targets law officers, El Paso Times (Mar. 25,
2010), www.elpasotimes.com/ci_14753458.
88
CNN Wire Staff, Border Agent Shot By Bandits Who Target Immigrants, Union
Chief Says (Dec. 15, 2010), http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/12/15/
arizona.border.agent.killed.
89
U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, A Line in the Sand: Confronting the
Threat at the Southwest Border (2006), p. 14; National Gang Intelligence Center,
National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging Trends (2011), p. 27.
90
Id. at p. 80.
91
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Electronic Communication, 183-7396, Aryan
Brotherhood Prison Gang, Information Concerning RICO, Non-LCN, OC Type, p.
56, UNCLASSIFIED; Kevin Johnson, Drug Cartels Unite Rival Gangs to Work for
Common Bad, USA Today (Mar. 16, 2010), http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/
news/nation/2010-03-15-rival-gangs-drug-wars_N.htm, accessed on Feb. 6,
2014.
92
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, Office
of Inspector General, CBP’s Strategy to Address Illicit Cross-Border Tunnels (Sept.
2012), p. 2, OIG-12-132, http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/
OIG_12-132_Sep12.pdf; U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, A Line
in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border (2006), pp. 15-16,
http://www.house.gov/sites/members/tx10_mccaul/pdf/Investigaions-BorderReport.pdf.
93
Matt Isaacs, Twice Burned, SF Weekly (June 14, 2000),
http://www.sfweekly.com/2000-06-14/news/twice-burned/full/, accessed
on Feb. 7, 2014; U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center,
National Drug Threat Assessment 2011 (Aug. 2011), p. 27.
94
Cal/Gang; National Gang Intelligence Center, National Gang Threat Assessment:
Emerging Trends (2011), pp. 47-48.
95
California County News, New FBI Stats: Two CA Counties Rank 1st and 3rd in the
Nation for Most Gang Members (Oct. 25, 2011), http://californiacitynews.typepad.com/california_county_news/2011/10/new-fbi-stats-two-ca-counties-rank-1stand-3rd-in-the-nation-for-most-gang-members.html, accessed on Feb. 6, 2014.
96
National Gang Intelligence Center, National Gang Threat Assessment: Emerging
Trends (2011), p. 15.
97
Interview with Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Gang Expert (Oct. 22, 2013).
86
87
Chapter 4
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Contraband Cell
Phones in CDCR Prisons and Conservation Camps (April 2012) http://www.
cdcr.ca.gov/Contraband-Cell-Phones/docs/Contraband-Cell-Phone-Fact-SheetApril-2012.pdf.
99
California State Assembly, Assembly Committee Report for Senate Bill 26 (Aug.
17, 2011), p. 5, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_00010050/sb_26_cfa_20110816_163530_asm_comm.html.
100
Moises Naim, Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the
Global Economy (2006), pp. 77-78.
101
Id.
102
Id. at p. 102.
103
Michael Montgomery, How Imprisoned Mexican Mafia Leader Exerts Secret Control Over L.A. Street Gangs (Sept. 19, 2013), http://blogs.kqed.org/
newsfix/2013/09/17/111570/secret-letter-from-mexican-mafia-gang-leader-tola-street-gangs.
104
Id.
105
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2010), p. ii.
106
Id. at pp. ii, 29.
107
Id. at p. 29.
108
Id. at p. ii.
109
Id.
110
Moises Naim, Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the
Global Economy (2006), p. 75.
111
Jerome P. Bjelopera & Kristen M. Finklea, Organized Crime: An Evolving Challenge
for U.S. Law Enforcement, Congressional Research Service (Jan. 6, 2012), p. 3.
112
U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug
Threat Assessment 2010 (Feb. 2010), pp. 21, 23, http://www.justice.gov/
archive/ndic/pubs38/38661/movement.htm, accessed on Feb. 8, 2014.
113
Cynthia Lambery, Panga Boats Running Drugs from Mexico are Pushing North,
Landing on SLO County Beaches, The Tribune (Dec. 1, 2012),
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/12/01/2313653/panga-boats-runningdrugs-from.html, accessed on Feb. 8, 2014.
114
Jeanette Steele, Coast Guard Touts Drug Busts at Sea, San Diego Union-Tribune
(June 7, 2013), http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/Jun/07/
coast-guard-drug-bust-sea-san-diego/, accessed on Aug. 9, 2013; Cynthia Lambery, Panga Boats Running Drugs from Mexico are Pushing North, Landing on
98
88
SLO County Beaches, The Tribune (Dec. 1, 2012), http://www.sanluisobispo.
com/2012/12/01/2313653/panga-boats-running-drugs-from.html, accessed
on Aug. 9, 2013.
115
El Paso Intelligence Center, National Seizure System, 20080101-20121231
California-Specific Narcotics Data Land Crossings Only, UNCLASSIFIED (Sept.
2013).
116
Id.; CBS News, Sinaloa Cartel Takes to the High Seas (Dec. 12, 2012).
117
Stephen Baxter, Drug Smuggling Boat Wrecks, 80 Pounds of Pot Found North
of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Sentinel (Oct. 1, 2013), http://www.mercurynews.
com/central-coast/ci_24213384/drug-smuggling-boat-wrecks-80-pounds-potfound?source=rss.
118
Id.
119
Cal Coast News, Panga Boart Beaches Near San Simeon Campground (Sept.
11, 2013), http://calcoastnews.com/2013/09/panga-boat-beaches-near-sansimeon-campground/.
120
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, Special Investigations Bureau, Transnational Organized Crime (Sept. 19, 2013).
121
Id.
122
Id.
123
Interview with Detective from Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office (Oct. 15, 2013).
124
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, Special Investigations Bureau, Transnational
Organized Crime (Sept. 19, 2013).
125
Susan Shroder, Panga Yields Nearly $1.8 million in Pot (Feb. 5, 2013), http://
www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/Feb/05/about-one-point-eight-million-in-poton-panga.
126
U.S. Coast Guard News Release, Chief Petty Officer Terrell Horne Dies During
Law Enforcement Mission (Dec. 3, 2010), http://www.uscgnews.com/go/
doc/4007/1624215/PHOTOS-AVAILABLE-Chief-Petty-Officer-Terrell-Horne-diesduring-law-enforcement-mission.
127
Jennifer Jensen, U.S. Coast Guard Intercepts 31 Bales of Marijuana After HighSpeed Chase on the Ocean, ABC10 News (Oct. 8, 2013),
http://www.10news.com/news/us-coast-guard-intercepts-31-bales-of-marijuanaafter-high-speed-chase-on-the-ocean-10072013.
128
White House, Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Southwest Border
Counternarcotics Strategy (2013), p. 69, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/
default/files/ondcp/policy-and-research/southwest_border_strategy_2013.pdf.
129
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, Office
of Inspector General, CBP’s Strategy to Address Illicit Cross-Border Tunnels (Sept.
2012), p. 2, OIG-12-132, http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/
OIG_12-132_Sep12.pdf.
89
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
90
Id.
Id. at pp. 2-3.
Id. at p. 3.
Jerome Bjelopera & Kristin Finklea, Organized Crime: An Evolving Challenge for
U.S. Law Enforcement (January 2012), Congressional Research Service, p. 18,
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41547.pdf, accessed on Aug. 9, 2013;
Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy (2013), p. 69, http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/
ondcp/policy-and-research/southwest_border_strategy_2013.pdf.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, Office
of Inspector General, CBP’s Strategy to Address Illicit Cross-Border Tunnels (Sept.
2012), p. 2, OIG-12-132, http://www.oig.dhs.gov/assets/Mgmt/2012/
OIG_12-132_Sep12.pdf.
Associated Press, Ultralight Packed with Pot Found in S. Cal Desert, Contra
Costa Times (Aug. 9, 2013), http://www.contracostatimes.com/california/
ci_23972609/ultralight-packed-pot-found-s-cal-desert, accessed on Sept. 20,
2013.
California Department of Finance, Foreign Trade Through California Ports, 1970-2012,
www.dof.ca,gov/html/fs_data/latestecondata/documents/BBFORTRD_000.xls, accessed on Aug. 10, 2013.
Id.
Id.
Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Chief, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section,
Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Combating Transnational Organized
Crime: International Money Laundering as a Threat to our Financial Systems (Feb.
8, 2012).
Financial Action Task Force - Groupe d’Action Financière, Best Practices on Trade
Based Money Laundering (June 2008), p. 1.
U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, The Buck Stops Here: Improving U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Practices: 2013 Senate Report (Apr. 2013),
p. 19.
U.S. v. Angel Toy Corporation, et al., No. 2:10-CR-00718 (C.D. Cal. 2010);
U.S. v. Woody Toys, Inc., et al., No. 2:12-CR-00329 (C.D. Cal. 2012); U.S.
v. Peace and Rich, et al. (Silk Flower Case), No. 2:13-CR-00107 (C.D. Cal.
2013).
Interviews with Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime
Taskforce (LA IMPACT) officials and Assistant U.S. Attorney, Central District of
California, Los Angeles (June-July 2013).
Chapter 5
National White Collar Crime Center, 2012 Internet Crime Report, p. 8.
Id. at p. 24.
146
Francisco Gomez, Pirateria, el Otro Frente del Narco, El Universal (Mar. 1,
2009), http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/166099.html, accessed on
Jan. 2, 2014.
147
The White House, Strategy To Combat Transnational Organized Crime (July
2011), p. 7.
148
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Chronology of Data Breaches (Dec. 31, 2013),
https://www.privacyrights.org/data-breach. The list compiled by Privacy Rights
Clearinghouse does not purport to be a complete listing of all breaches in a given
year. Rather, it includes only breaches that have been reported in the news media,
on government websites, and on blogs. For this reason, the list likely understates
the actual number of breaches. For more information, please see:
https://www.privacyrights.org/data-breach-FAQ.
149
California Department of Justice, Attorney General’s Data Breach Report 2012, p. 7.
150
Office of the Attorney General, Identity Theft, http://oag.ca.gov/idtheft (reporting
statistics from Javelin Strategy and Research, 2012 Identity Fraud Report).
151
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Chronology of Data Breaches (Dec. 31, 2013),
https://www.privacyrights.org/data-breach.
152
Id.; Office of the Attorney General, Identity Theft, http://oag.ca.gov/idtheft (reporting statistics from Javelin Strategy and Research, 2012 Identity Fraud Report).
153
Clay Wilson, Botnets, Cybercrime, and Cyberterrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy
Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service (2008), p. 9.
154
Jason Franklin, et al., An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of
Internet Miscreants (2007), p. 1; Clay Wilson, Botnets, Cybercrime, and Cyberterrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress, Congressional Research
Service (2008), p. 9.
155
Federal Bureau of Investigation, APT Actors Send Spear-Phishing Email with
Missing Children Theme, Private Sector Advisory (Aug. 9, 2013).
156
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Cyber Banking Fraud, news release (Oct. 1,
2010); Complaint at p. 22, Microsoft Corp. v. John Does 1–82, No. 3:13-cv319 (W.D.N.C. May 29, 2013).
157
Complaint at p. 23, Microsoft Corp. v. John Does 1–82, No. 3:13-cv-319
(W.D.N.C. May 29, 2013).
158
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Fraud and Organized Crime Intersect, news
release (Oct. 13, 2010); Lizette Alvarez, With Personal Data in Hand, Thieves
File Early and Often, New York Times (May 26, 2012).
144
145
91
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
171
172
173
174
175
176
177
178
179
180
92
Complaint at p. 6, Microsoft Corp. v. John Does 1–82, No. 3:13-cv-319
(W.D.N.C. May 29, 2013).
Clay Wilson, Botnets, Cybercrime, and Cyberterrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy
Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service (2008), p. 5.
Id.
Id.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2010) p. 204.
Id.
Jerome P. Bjelopera & Kristin M. Finklea, Organized Crime: An Evolving Challenge for U.S. Law Enforcement, Congressional Research Service (2012), p. 12.
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California, Five Domestic Defendants
Linked to International Computer Hacking Ring Conspiracy Guilty of Federal Fraud
Charges, news release (Mar. 26, 2011).
Indictment at pp. 9–10, U.S. v. Lucas et al., No. CR09-01005 (C.D. Cal. Sept.
30, 2009).
Federal Bureau of Investigation, One Hundred Linked to International Computer
Hacking Ring Charged by United States and Egypt in Operation Phish Phry, news
release (Oct. 7, 2009).
Second Superseding Indictment at pp. 4-11, United States v. Drinkman et al., No.
1:09-cr-00626 (D.N.J. 2013).
Id. at pp. 13–15.
Id. at p. 16.
Nathaniel Popper & Somini Sengupta, U.S. Says Ring Stole 160 Million Credit
Card Numbers, New York Times (July 25, 2013).
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California, Armenian Power Organized
Crime Group Targeted in Federal Indictments That Allege Racketeering Offenses,
Including Bank Fraud Schemes, Kidnappings, and Drug Trafficking, news release
(Feb. 16, 2011).
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Fraud and Organized Crime Intersect, news release (Oct. 13, 2010).
Id.
Id.
Id.
Verizon, 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report, pp. 20–21.
Id. at pp. 15, 21–22.
Gregory F. Treverton et al., Film Piracy, Organized Crime, and Terrorism (RAND
2009), p. 28; see also Rick Orlov, Gangs Turning to Pirated DVDs, CDs To Cash
In, Daily News (July 7, 2009), p. A3.
181
182
183
184
185
186
187
188
189
190
191
192
193
194
195
196
197
198
199
200
Joshua Philipp, Cybercrime the New Face of Organized Crime, Says Manhattan
DA, Epoch Times (May 14, 2013); International Mass-Marketing Fraud Working
Group, Mass-Marketing Fraud: A Threat Assessment (June 2010), p. 13.
National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, Intellectual Property
Rights Violations: A Report on Threats to United States Interests at Home and
Abroad (Nov. 2011), p. v; United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (“UNICRI”), Confiscation of the Proceeds of IP Crime (2013), p. 9.
International Mass-Marketing Fraud Working Group, Mass-Marketing Fraud: A
Threat Assessment (June 2010), p. 12.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Globalization of Crime: A
Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2010) pp. 203-204.
Max Goncharov, Russian Underground 101, Trend Micro Incorporated (2012),
p. 18.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Globalization of Crime: A
Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2010), p. 204.
Max Goncharov, Russian Underground 101, Trend Micro Incorporated (2012), p. 8.
Complaint at p. 8, Microsoft Corp. v. John Does 1–82, No. 3:13-cv-319
(W.D.N.C. May 29, 2013).
Id.
Id. at p. 10.
Id. at pp. 8-9.
Jeremy Kirk, Advance Fee Fraud Scams Rise Dramatically in 2009, Compuworld
(Jan. 28, 2009).
National White Collar Crime Center, 2012 Internet Crime Report, p. 8.
Ross Anderson, et al., Measuring the Cost of Cybercrime (2012), p. 15.
The connection to Nigeria is so frequent, in fact, that this type of scam is also
known as a “419 fraud” after the applicable section in the Nigerian criminal
code.
Ross Anderson et al., Measuring the Cost of Cybercrime (2012), pp. 15–16.
International Mass-Marketing Fraud Working Group, Mass-Marketing Fraud: A
Threat Assessment (June 2010), p. 16
Blaise J. Bergiel, et al., Internet Cross Border Crime: A Growing Problem, Journal
of Website Promotion, vol. 3, (2008), p. 135.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Globalization of Crime: A
Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2010), p. 204.
International Mass-Marketing Fraud Working Group, Mass-Marketing Fraud: A
Threat Assessment (June 2010), p. 16; UNODC, The Globalization of Crime: A
Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2010), p. 204.
93
U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey, Organizer of International Securities
Fraud Ring Sentenced to Prison for Using Hackers to Falsely Inflate Stock Prices,
news release (May 13, 2013).
202
National White Collar Crime Center, 2012 Internet Crime Report, p. 8.
203
Id. at pp. 14–15.
204
Id. at p. 24.
205
International Mass-Marketing Fraud Working Group, Mass-Marketing Fraud: A
Threat Assessment (June 2010) pp. 4, 12, 14.
206
Indictment at pp. 2-3, United States v. Butoi, et al., No. 1:12-cr-00785 (E.D.N.Y.
Jan. 9, 2013); Federal Bureau of Investigation, Organized Romanian Criminal
Groups Targeted by DOJ and Romanian Law Enforcement, news release (July 15,
2011).
207
Id.
208
Id.
209
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Consumer Alert: Online Rental Ads Could Be
Phony (July 29, 2009),
http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2009/july/housingscam_072909.
210
International Mass-Marketing Fraud Working Group, Mass-Marketing Fraud: A
Threat Assessment (June 2010), p. 15.
211
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, Manhattan U.S. Attorney
Announces Extradition of Four Israeli Defendants Charged in Multi-Million-Dollar
Phony ‘Lottery Prize’ Schemes, news release (Jan. 4, 2012).
212
UNICRI, Confiscation of the Proceeds of IP Crime (2013), pp. 9, 13.
213
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2010), p. 176; UNICRI, Confiscation of the Proceeds of IP Crime (2013), p. 11.
214
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Globalization of Crime: A
Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2010), p. 180.
215
Damon McCoy, et al., PharmaLeaks: Understanding the Business of Online Pharmaceutical Affiliate Programs (2012) p. 2.
216
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat
Assessment (2010), p. 184.]
217
David Price, NetNames, Sizing the Piracy Universe (Sept. 2013),
www.copyrightalliance.org/sites/default/files/2013-netnames-piracy.pdf.
218
Id.
219
Letter to Victoria A. Espinel from the Motion Picture Association of America, et al.
(Aug. 10, 2012), pp. 1–2.
201
94
National Intellectual Property Rights Center, Intellectual Property Rights Violations: A
Report on Threats to United States Interests at Home and Abroad (Nov. 2011), p. 29.
221
Letter to Stan McCoy from Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (Sept. 14,
2012), p. 2.
222
William Kerr & Chad Moutray, Economic Impact of Global Software Theft on U.S.
Manufacturing and Competitiveness (Jan. 30, 2014), p. 5.
223
Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pirated Software May Contain Malware, Consumer Alert (Aug. 1, 2013); National Intellectual Property Rights Center, Intellectual
Property Rights Violations: A Report on Threats to United States Interests at Home
and Abroad (Nov. 2011), p. 27.
224
Paula Greve, Digital Music and Movies Report: The True Cost of Free Entertainment (2010) p. 10.
225
Money Laundering Threat Assessment Working Group, U.S. Money Laundering
Threat Assessment (Dec. 2005), p. 20.
226
U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, The Buck Stops Here: Improving U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Practices: 2013 Senate Report (Apr. 2013),
pp. 27-28, Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Chief, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering
Section, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Combating Transnational
Organized Crime: International Money Laundering as a Threat to our Financial
Systems (Feb. 8, 2012), p. 8.
227
U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Drug
Threat Assessment 2009, p. 50.
228
Id.
229
Statement of Jennifer Shasky Calvery before the U.S. Senate Committee on
Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (Nov. 19, 2013), p. 2.
230
Prepared Testimony of Edward Lowery III before the U.S. Senate Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Nov. 18, 2013), p. 3.
231
Id.
232
Id.
233
Statement of the Hon. Mythili Raman before the U.S. Senate Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Nov. 18, 2013), p. 4.
234
Prepared Testimony of Edward Lowery III before the U.S. Senate Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Nov. 18, 2013), p. 3.
235
U.S. v. Liberty Reserve S.A, et al., (S.D.N.Y. 2013), Case No. 13 CRIM 368.
236
Id. at ¶¶ 9 and 21.
237
Id. at ¶ 20.
238
Id.
239
Id. at ¶ 10.
240
Id.
220
95
241
242
243
244
245
246
Id. at ¶43.
Statement of the Hon. Mythili Raman before the U.S. Senate Committee on
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Nov. 18, 2013), p. 4.
Sealed Complaint at p. 6, United States v. Ulbricht (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 27, 2013).
David Segal, Eagle Scout. Idealist. Drug Trafficker?, New York Times (Jan. 18,
2014).
Stuart Pfeifer, Shan Li, & Walter Hamilton, End of Silk Road for Drug Users as FBI
Shuts Down Illicit Website, Los Angeles Times (Oct. 2, 2013).
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Bitcoin Exchangers, Including CEO of Bitcoin Exchange
Company, for Scheme to Sell and Launder over $1 Million in Bitcoins Related to
Silk Road Drug Trafficking, news release (Jan. 27, 2014).
Chapter 6
247
248
249
250
251
252
253
254
255
256
257
258
259
260
261
262
263
264
265
96
21 U.S.C. § 848
Garrett v. United States (1985) 471 U.S. 773, 781.
Steven Burnholtz, et al., International Extradition in Drug Cases, 10 N.C. J. Int’l L.
& Com. Reg. 353, 358 (1985); see also 21 U.S.C. § 848, subd. (a)(1)(c).
21 U.S.C. §§ 848, 853.
Md. Criminal Law Ann. § 5-607, subd. (b)(1); N.J. Stat. § 2C:35-3 (2013).
Interview with Commander of the Fresno Special Operations Unit (Sept. 2013).
Id.
People v. Green (2004) 125 Cal.App.4th 360, 374, fn. 9 ([“[Penal Code s]ection 186.11 gives the People no way to prevent the dissipation of assets before a
complaint or indictment has been filed.”]).
18 U.S.C. § 1963, subd. (d).
18 U.S.C. § 1963, subd. (d)(2).
18 U.S.C. § 1963, subd. (d)(l)(B)(iii).
31 U.S.C. § 5313, and regulations thereunder.
31 U.S.C. § 5324.
31 U.S.C. § 5324, subd. (a)(3).
CA Pen. Code, § 14166
Id.
Interview with CAMLA Task Force Commander, SAS, Ernesto Limon, CA DOJ
(Sept. 2013).
Id.
FinCEN News Release (Oct. 24, 2013),
http://fincen.gov/news_room/nr/20131024.pdf.
266
267
Statement of Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Director, Financial Crimes Enforcement
Network, Upon Signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Mexico’s National
Banking and Securities Commission, Oct. 24, 2013, http://fincen.gov/pdf/
Statement%20for%20MOU%20signing%20with%20CNBV.pdf.
Celina B. Realuyo, It’s All About the Money: Advancing Anti-Money Laundering
Efforts in the U.S. and Mexico to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Mexico Institute (May 2012), p. 27.
97
98
Fly UP