PHOENIX (CN) – An Arizona appeals court vacated an order forcing Western Union to hand over wire-transfer records to the state attorney general for his investigation of human smuggling.
Terry Goddard asked for records of all wire transfers of $300 or more sent to Sonora, Mexico from 2004 to 2006. He was investigating an racketeering scheme involving coyotes, or smugglers, who brought undocumented workers into Arizona and were paid by U.S. sponsors that sent wire transfers to Mexico. Coyotes allegedly hired pick-up agents to collect the money. More than $28 million was transferred to Western Union agents in Sonora during the period, $19 million of which was sent to five border cities known as staging areas for smuggling. The court found Goddard’s request was overbroad, because he was unable to connect the racketeering activity in Arizona with wire transfers in all of Sonora. Vacated and remanded. See ruling in Arizona v. Western Union.