State v. Mr. S (DMC No. 14311) – Felony Money Laundering ($3,000,000 from Drug Sales), Felony RICO/Illegally Conducting an Enterprise, Felony Dangerous Drugs For Sale (Heroin) and Felony Marijuana For Sale – Not Charged – Phoenix Police Department (DR No. 20XX-XXXXXXX0) and Arizona Attorney General Investigated.
The Phoenix Police Department had officers working with the Arizona Financial Crimes Task Force (AZFCTF) who were investigating Money Laundering by various drug cartels. They received a tip from the FBI Gang Unit regarding possible Drug Sales and Money Laundering by a local beauty salon. After conducting surveillance, they ultimately pulled over and arrested a person who had 2.5 pounds of heroin in their possession. There was also copies of money transmitter receipts showing large amounts of money consistently being wired into Mexico. The Detectives received different information that this was all occurring out of a beauty salon in Phoenix. The officers then set up surveillance and observed a man and a woman who would constantly answer a specific telephone and talk for about 15 seconds while writing down information. They would then exchange pieces of paper and information with each other. Officers spoke with a customer service agent of OMNEX – the company that services wire transfers in and out of Mexico. The company which actually fulfills the completion of the transaction in and out of Mexico is GIROMEX money transfer services. That service agent was interviewed, and they were able to confirm that it appeared the calls were coming from two separate people who were constantly wiring money into Mexico.
A raid was then executed on the business and a male and female stylist inside the salon were arrested. It turned out they were brother and sister, and there was also an owner, who was arrested, who was also present in the salon. The owner was questioned and admitted that she would receive a list of fictitious names and would create the money transfers which were all sent to Mexico. She also confirmed that the funds were derived from heroin sales. It was estimated that approximately $4 million had been run through the salon.
After the arrests, we were retained by Mr. S (the male hair stylist) in order to see if we could keep him from being charged with any crimes. The owner of the hair salon pled guilty and was sentenced to prison. The other female hair stylist was deported. We were able to work with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to show them that they could not make a case against Mr. S based upon “opinion” that his voice was the person on the phone who constantly called and made wire transfers. Because they had deported his sister to Mexico, they had lost the only other direct witness who could positively confirm Mr. S. as the person making the wire transfers. Ultimately, the Attorney General sent the case back to Detectives to see if they could gather more information. No more information could be found regarding Mr. S’s involvement, and he was never charged with any crimes.