As a DEA Special Agent, Donnie worked in Bolivia, Puerto Rico and Peru.  He had also been a liaison with the Mexican Federal Judicial Police.  After retiring from the DEA, Donnie taught Iraqi border policeman a variety of things, including how to detect cash and drugs hidden through smuggling.  Through his work, Donnie became highly skilled at following money trails in order to interdict illicit drugs and other assets.

At the August 16, 2013 “Asset Search News Roundup”,  Donnie discussed a Mexican court’s release of drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero.  Rafael Caro Quintero is accused of participating in the heinous murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena.  At the August 16th Roundup, Donnie disclosed he became a DEA Special Agent because Kiki had been one.  I asked Donnie how governmental authorities could best try to dismantle the drug cartels and prevent tragedies like Kiki’s murder.  Donnie’s answer highlights the role asset forfeiture has in combating the drug cartels:

Besides subjecting drug kingpins and other cartel members to the death penalty or other stiff sentences, asset forfeiture can help dismantle the drug cartels. The cartels launder their illicit drug proceeds by employing: foreign bank accounts; money mules who smuggle bulk cash; shell companies; diamonds or other valuable commodities; lawyers; bankers; and other middleman willing to assist them. The cartels also wash criminal proceeds by commingling them with legitimate funds from existing businesses.  They can hide their illicit proceeds by purchasing valuable property ranging from real estate to expensive automobiles.

When tens of millions of dollars are smuggled across international borders, this smuggling is usually on behalf of a drug cartel or other organized crime. Through wire taps, informants, surveillance, search warrants, etc., a drug cartel’s illicit funds or other illicit proceeds may be detected.  These proceeds can then be seized and forfeited under U.S. or other laws.  Infighting typically occurs at a drug cartel after law enforcement seizes a large amount of drugs or other cartel property. One hopes that enough cartel property can repeatedly be interdicted to the point that this infighting increases and the cartel ceases its normal operations.

Copyright 2013 Fred L. Abrams