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04/11/2013

BEST Taskforce seizes $636,000 following road-side search

MOBILE, Ala. — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized more than $636,000 Tuesday after intercepting a vehicle on I-10 near Mobile en route from Atlanta to Laredo, Texas connected to a federal money laundering investigation.

The Mobile County Sheriff's Department initially stopped the vehicle, and after obtaining consent to search, HSI investigators working as part of the Mobile Border Enforcement Security (BEST) Task Force discovered $636,321 in cash hidden within the vehicle. The driver was subsequently arrested on state conspiracy and money laundering charges.

"Seizing the proceeds of illegal activity is an incredibly effective law-enforcement tool because it removes the profit incentive from criminals and hampers their ability to fund further illicit activities," said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer, Jr. "This case is a prime example of local and federal authorities working together to identify, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations. The Mobile County Sheriff's Department is an invaluable partner in that joint effort to secure vulnerabilities along U.S. borders." Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility including Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Following the seizure, HSI special agents conducted a controlled delivery of currency Wednesday to its intended destination in Laredo, Texas, where investigators were able to identify and arrest an additional individual connected to the money laundering scheme.

The Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) is an HSI-led, multi-agency Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiative to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that seek to exploit vulnerabilities along U.S. borders. There are currently 34 BEST units deployed across the country, covering major seaports and southern and northern border regions. BEST units are composed of more than 750 law enforcement officers from over 100 federal, state, local, tribal, and foreign law enforcement and intelligence resources.

BEST Mobile is composed of full time members from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), Office of Border Patrol (OBP), Office of Air and Marine (OAM), Mobile Police Department, Mobile County Sheriff's Department, Alabama Marine Police, Alabama Marine Resources, Thomasville Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Internal Revenue Service, Orange Beach Police Department, Saraland Police Department, Gulf Shores Police Department and Baldwin County Sheriff's Department. BEST Mobile is responsible for identifying, investigating and eliminating vulnerabilities to one of the nation's busiest ports and combating Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs).