For the first time ever, Cameron County Law enforcement agencies were awarded a grants to target money laundering.
Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz said it TMs a big problem in the Rio Grande Valley.
Criminals used to physically move wads of cash over the border, but now they TMre making use of digital transfers using bank-issued money cards.
The DA's office, Brownsville Police and Harlingen PD received over $2.2 million in August from the Southwest Border Anti-Money-Laundering Alliance to specifically combat money laundering across the US - Mexico border.
The money will be used to jumpstart a new taskforce in Cameron County called the Financial Asset Seizure Team or FAST.
The old method was just cold hard cash surreptitiously being taken back to Mexico. Obviously with the law enforcement as keen as it is, they were apprehending a lot of those loads going south. So they figured out a different way to do I, that TMs with money cards, other related matters -- money order, money transfers, and the like, said Cameron County District Attorney Saenz.
While grant money will be used to activate the taskforce, money seized as a result of illegal smuggling investigations is what will fund it.
That means FAST will operate without additional costs to the taxpayer.
The team will consist of 19 members who will work alongside federal partners like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the DEA.
Millions of dollars each year are smuggled across our local border.
Saenz told Action 4 money can legally be sent overseas, but if it is over $10,000 you must declare it.