HOMELAND SECURITY’S NATIONAL BULK CASH SMUGGLING CENTER IN VERMONT FOLLOWS THE MONEY- The Boston Globe by Wilson RIng 12/13/11
A small Department of Homeland Security office in Vermont helped disrupt one of the largest cocaine smuggling operations ever broken up by US agents, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said yesterday.
In a visit to Williston to tour the National Bulk Cash Smuggling Center’s new, expanded offices, John Morton, Immigration and Customs Enforcement director, spoke of the center’s role in what became known as Operation Pacific Rim. Agents at the Vermont center help investigate cash seizures across the world that can sometimes lead them into the heart of international organized crime.
In the Pacific Rim case, investigators in Vermont helped follow more than $41 million in Colombia and Mexico beginning in September 2009. The cash was found in bundles of $750,000 in the middle of packages of ammonium nitrate, which can be used in fertilizers and explosives, Morton said.
“This is all about organized crime; there is nothing about this that is mom and pop,’’ Morton said. “This is the proceeds of all sorts of illicit activity. It’s not just narcotics smuggling; think any large form of organized crime. You have to move your money. You can’t go down to the local bank at the corner of 4th and Main.’’