Major Crimes Unit Investigating Money-Wire Storefronts for Mob Ties

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From the second issue of The Gotham Times:

Lt. Jim Gordon's Major Crimes Unit is probing whether Gotham money-wire storefronts may be part of a complicated money laundering scheme, sources tell The Gotham Times. This probe is the latest sign that the MCU is living street crime to the larger GPD and instead targeting organized crime's money trail.

Ever since it was created, the Major Crimes Unit has come under attack for seeming inaction in the face of Gotham's crime wave. But the latest information of a money-laundering probe suggests that Gordon subscribes to the time-honored police tactic of "following the money."

While no charges have yet been filed, GPD sources say that Gordon is attempting to make a case that organized crime is using dozens of small storefronts throughout the city to wire money to border towns in Texas, banks in Antigua, and Caracas, Venezuela.

From there, the money is picked up by bagmen, and transferred to various businesses. "These small-time money wire businesses are popular with organized crime because they can avoid the oversight normally administered by banks and other financial institutions," said John Swirthbone, an FBI official working on an anti-money laundering task force.

Observers contacted by The Gotham Times tend to support Gordon's strategy of targeting money laundering initially. Former top Treasury Enforcement official Lars Bakely compared money laundering to a criminal organization's "blood."

"It's the life support system for organized crime," Bakely said. "To survive, criminal conspiracies require a constant flow of money from nefarious sources to legitimate financial channels. If you shut off that flow, you shut down the organization."

Major Crimes refused to comment on the report.

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