U.S. Arrests 140 in National Law Enforcement against Unlicensed Money Transmitters

IMPORTANT: The full content of this page is available to premium users only.

Friday, July 1, 2005
Bruce Zagaris
On May 23, 2005, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 140 persons in a nationwide raid of unlicensed money transmittal businesses and underground "hawalas," seizing more than $25.5 million in allegedly illicit proceeds going to the Middle East and Southwest Asia. A hawala is an informal underground banking system based on trust in which money is transmitted or made available internationally without having a normal record of the transaction. Reports of law enforcement agencies and international organizations indicate terrorists make frequent use of hawalas. Michael J. Garcia, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary, said ICE agents, acting under the authority of the USA Patriot Act, closed several businesses that had transferred millions of dollars to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Already the law enforcement operation has resulted in 138 criminal indictments. Garcia said the raids occurred in the past two weeks by agents acting pursuant to arrest and search warrants...[more]