Man Indicted In Scheme To Help Finance Smugglers

Man indicted in scheme to help finance smugglers
Jan 23, 2008 7:23 PM AP

PHOENIX (Map, News) – A Scottsdale man has been indicted on 80 counts of money laundering and other crimes that officials say financed human smugglers and drug dealers.

Bruce Dennis Love, 50, who ran businesses in Phoenix and Mesa that offered money wire transfers, was named in a grand jury indictment issued Tuesday, the Attorney General's Office said.

Investigators said family members of illegal immigrants would wire money to Love's stores to pay smugglers to take them to particular destinations.

Smugglers or their human cargo would pick up the cash at Love's stores, and he received a fee on each transaction, investigators said.

Two other men suspected in the 4-year-old, $56.8 million money-laundering scheme were also indicted. Their names have been withheld because they have not been served with the indictment, said Andrea Esquer, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office.

The indictments shut down one of the “illegal support structures for human smugglers and drug traffickers,” said Vincent Picard, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which helped in the 23-month investigation.

“This investigation hit them where it hurts,” he said.

Love ran his operation out of three locations in Phoenix and one in Mesa, which offered money transfer and check-cashing services, according to the indictment and court documents. Western Union said that Love was at one point an agent offering Western Union services but the company terminated its relationship with him in March 2006.

One of the stores was tucked into a small back room inside a Mexican butcher shop in west-central Phoenix.

As early as 2004, Love was warned by one of his store clerks that he would get in trouble for catering to his “coyote clientele,” according to a court document.

But Love told her that the “coyotes were driving his commissions,” and he demanded that such wires be paid by his cashiers, the court record said.

Love's employees estimated that 80 to 100 percent of all wire transfer transactions in his stores were intended to pay smugglers bringing illegal immigrants into the United States, according to court records.

The indictment alleged that Love and the two unidentified suspects violated state money-laundering laws by making false statements and reports, not filing suspicious-activity reports and accepting false personal identification from people receiving the wired money.

Love also was indicted on charges of conspiracy and participating in a criminal syndicate. He was arrested Friday, released on $20,000 cash bond and was ordered to surrender his passport.

He is expected to be arraigned Jan. 30.