Americans often say they want community policing

Saturday, June 4th, 2022

Recent events remind us of Americans’ deep ambivalence and internal contradictions about policing:

Americans often say they want community policing, emphasizing de-escalation and outreach over proactive crime reduction and assertive policing. Many also oppose what they see as the “militarization” of police, rejecting the notion that American law enforcement should procure and train with tools such as sniper rifles and bullet-proof vests, let alone other more specialized equipment.

America in recent years has suffered a wave of anti-policing rhetoric, with the “Ferguson effect” beginning in 2014 and reaching a crescendo in the riots of 2020. Some radicals seek to defund them altogether.

But when an incident like Uvalde occurs, the public expects members of law enforcement to conduct what even America’s most elite special operations forces consider among the most challenging tactical tasks: a solo dynamic entry, room clearance, and structure search against a heavily armed perpetrator or perpetrators.

And the public is right to ask for this.

But few agencies select officers based on ability and willingness to perform this extremely high-impact/low-probability mission. Few agencies train officers to the high levels of proficiency required. The reality is that most law enforcement agencies require only the minimally mandated firearms qualifications, and at standards that are insufficient to meet the level of the challenge, in the event the worst should happen. Only a select few officers seek outside training and acquire the right tools, often at their own expense, to make themselves ready, lest they be called and found wanting.

Beyond bureaucratic training requirements, the task requires a certain mindset, a comfort with aggression, and a drive not doled out to all people in equal measure.

There are around 700,000 sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. As much as it may pain us to admit it, not all of them will be warriors, a word that is overused in certain circles but nevertheless remains apt. And, of course, police work requires many other interpersonal skills and training, some of which are 180-degree opposite from the psychological traits required to storm into a room alone against a determined and heavily armed gunman.

As historian Victor Davis Hanson eloquently writes, America possesses a deep discomfort with those who truly epitomize the combat virtues. While America loves the action hero, we breathe a sigh of relief at the movie’s end not only because the villain has been dispatched, but also because the hero rides away.

If we are honest with ourselves, most Americans don’t want this type of highly capable and dangerous man (and most of them will be men) doing our policing. Not on the good days, when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping.

Serial killing was something of a social contagion

Thursday, May 26th, 2022

With mass-killing shootings in the news, Steve Sailer wanted to point out that not all bad things are destined to increase forever:

For instance, according to the Radford University Database of known serial killers, the number of serial killers soared during what Robert Heinlein predicted c. 1940 would be known as the Crazy Years (1960s-1970s) before declining more recently.

Rise and Fall of Serial Killers

It appears that the idea of serial killing was something of a social contagion that spread first among whites, then among nonwhites. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hitchcock’s hugely influential 1960 movie Psycho, often thought as the founder of the “slasher pic” genre, played a role in this real life phenomenon, although how to measure that is beyond me.

It’s also hard to say what caused the decline over the last generation. It could be that serial killing became less appealing to the handful of sickos attracted to doing it.

Or it could be fear of being caught increased. According to Bill James, cops were long particularly bad at catching serial killers because they’d been trained not to fall for the idea that somebody was murdered by a random stranger: instead, it had to be somebody who knew the victim, an ex-boyfriend or the like. So if they had five dead women on their hands, they tended to look for five separate killers. This had been a fairly productive prejudice, since it kept them from going down the wrong path most of the time. But the huge publicity attendant to Ted Bundy c. 1980 forced cops to get serious about the serial killer phenomenon.

Almost any other evacuation location would be preferable to a parking lot

Thursday, May 12th, 2022

Don’t evacuate into a parking lot after a terrorist attack, Greg Ellifritz warns:

A common tactic for bombers is to place one bomb and then detonate it. They place a second bomb at the site to which victims may be evacuating or where first responders might be staging. The secondary explosive often does more damage than the primary.

One of the best examples of terrorists using secondary devices is this bombing attack on a tourist hotel in Tripoli. Up to five gunman armed with rifles, grenades, and body armor entered the front lobby of the hotel and began shooting guests and staff at random. As people fled from the attackers out the back doors of the hotel, they gathered in the rear parking lot. The terrorists then detonated a pre-placed bomb loaded into one of the cars parked nearby. Nine people total were killed in the attack. The guns and grenades were the primary attack and the car bomb served very effectively as the secondary device.

[…]

The problem is that there is no way to ensure that one of the cars in the parking lot doesn’t contain a large bomb or even an additional team of terrorist gunmen. It’s relatively difficult to kill large numbers of people with a bomb inside a building. It’s almost impossible to bring a large bomb inside a building without being noticed. The maximal realistic payload is a backpack or duffel bag bomb weighing 20-40 lbs. That will certainly kill some folks, but it is nothing like the impact of 500 lbs of explosives in the trunk of a car. Additionally, walls and furniture inside a building soak up a lot of the blast and shrapnel, further limiting casualties.

It’s much easier and more efficient for the terrorists to place a bomb in a parking lot evacuation site and then drive victims outside by using either gunfire or a small bomb inside. It’s a tactic that has been used successfully for years.

[…]

Almost any other evacuation location would be preferable to a parking lot. Look for an open area with no cars, areas of disturbed soil, or trash receptacles. Ideally there should be some hard cover available nearby.

Some of you are likely thinking “This isn’t Tripoli. I don’t have to worry about car bombs and secondary devices here in America.” You are wrong. You might have forgotten about the bomb placed in a car in Times Square a couple years ago. Or how about the secondary device explosion that detonated after one of Eric Rudolph’s abortion clinic bombings? Terrorists use bombs here too.

On-duty police fatally shoot about 1,000 people every year

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

When Ferguson burst into flames, Robert VerBruggen notes, we knew very little about the true number of people killed by police, unarmed or otherwise:

In a survey conducted by Manhattan Institute colleague Eric Kaufmann, for example, eight in 10 African-Americans and about half of white Biden voters said that they thought that young black men were more likely to be shot to death by police than to die in a car accident — one of the largest mortality risks to the young and healthy. Another survey, by Skeptic magazine, showed that more than a third of liberal and very liberal respondents thought that the number of unarmed blacks killed by police each year was “about 1,000” or more. About a fifth of those calling themselves “very conservative” thought the same thing. Yet another survey, from a trio of academics, found that about four in 10 African-Americans reported being “very afraid” of being killed by the police, which was roughly twice the share of black respondents who reported being “very afraid” of being murdered by criminals, as well as about four times the share of whites who reported being “very afraid” of being killed by the police.

[…]

So what do the basic numbers and five years of research reveal? These are the major findings detailed in the following pages:

On-duty police fatally shoot about 1,000 people every year. This number and its racial breakdown have remained remarkably steady since 2015. The overall Post tally has ranged from a low of 958 in 2016, to a “record” of 1,055 in 2021 (reported as this paper went to press), with any pattern difficult to distinguish from random chance.

Approximately a quarter of those killed are black. This is roughly double the black share of the overall population, but it is in line with — and sometimes below — many other “bench-marks” that one might use for comparison, such as the racial breakdowns of arrests, murders, and violent-crime offenders as reported by victims in surveys.

Blacks are an even higher percentage of unarmed civilians shot and killed by police (34%), which is a potential sign of bias. However, not all shootings of unarmed civilians are unjustified, and it is difficult to objectively classify these cases in a more granular fashion. And contrary to the popular perceptions outlined above, confirmed fatal police shootings of unarmed African-Americans number about 22 per year.

More rigorous research into the question of whether police killings reflect racial bias is in its infancy, and it has been subject to intense debates over the appropriate methods. But existing studies are divided on the bias question. Many papers fail to find bias in lethal force, though one of the most careful studies in the literature — of an unnamed city with a high murder rate — does find that white cops discharge their guns several times as often as black cops when sent to 911 calls in heavily black neighborhoods.

Bernie Madoff’s sister and her husband dead in apparent murder-suicide

Monday, February 21st, 2022

The sister of infamous Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff and her husband have been found dead in an apparent murder-suicide:

Deputies who responded to a 911 call found 87-year-old Sondra Wiener and her 90-year-old husband Marvin dead from gunshot wounds in their Boynton Beach, Florida home on Thursday, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in the release Sunday.

Now I’m wondering if they were linked to Epstein somehow.

The French model agent who was charged with securing girls and young women for billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was found dead Saturday in a Paris prison cell

Saturday, February 19th, 2022

The French model agent who was charged with securing girls and young women for billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was found dead Saturday in a Paris prison cell:

Jean-Luc Brunel, 74, was found hanged by his bedsheets in his cell around 1:30 a.m. local time at La Sante prison, the Paris prosecutor’s office told CNN.

Brunel, who ran Karin Models in Paris, and later formed MC2 Model Management with Epstein, was awaiting trial on charges of sexual assault and rape. He was also being investigated for trafficking minors, including girls as young as 12 years old, according to French news reports.

[...]

Brunel — who was credited with launching the careers of models Christy Turlington, Monica Belluci and Angie Everhart — went into hiding after Epstein’s own suicide in a Manhattan lockup in August 2019.

[...]

“It was very convenient and yes suspicious,” a veteran Paris police detective told The Post, who nonetheless said he was not yet convinced Brunel was “suicided.”

You take some personal risks but benefit the community overall

Tuesday, January 11th, 2022

A few months ago David Frum asserted that the way to reduce gun violence is by convincing ordinary, “responsible” handgun owners that their weapons make them and those around them less safe, which is odd, because he also notes that unintended shootings only account for 1 percent of U.S. gun deaths.

Steve Sailer says out loud what none of us are supposed to say and then continues with this:

One reason that America has surprisingly few Clockwork Orange–style home invasions with urban criminals driving out to the boonies to attack locals is because Boonie-Americans tend to be so well-armed.

For example, even in the 1990s when South-Central Los Angeles was like Grand Theft Auto, Los Angeles’s white and Asian suburbs were pretty safe. Here’s somebody’s current list of the safest municipalities in California. The safest city in Los Angeles County is lovely Rancho Palos Verdes overlooking the Pacific. Rancho Palos Verdes is 22 miles from Compton. In lightly armed England, that would be a sitting duck for inner city criminals to drive out.

Being a law-abiding legal gun-owner is like being vaccinated, Sailer reminds us: you take some personal risks but benefit the community overall.

You still won’t be able to compete for attention with all of the other sensational crimes

Saturday, December 11th, 2021

Leighton Woodhouse and his wife are scrambling to find daycare for their 16-month-old son:

We’ve had a “nanny share” up until now, which means we and another couple employ a nanny for both couples’ kids and split the cost. Our nanny is wonderful, and she lives just a few blocks from us. But a few weeks ago, someone walked up her street spraying bullets into random houses. One of the bullets found its way into her living room, as she and her family ducked for cover. At that moment, she and her husband decided they were moving their family out of Oakland.

The shooting didn’t even make the local news. Apparently, in the Bay Area right now, you can walk up a residential street firing your gun into houses, and you still won’t be able to compete for attention with all of the other sensational crimes.

Woodhouse, who considers himself progressive, nonetheless agrees with Michael Shellenberger (author of San Fransicko) that progressives do ruin cities:

After a summer of protests against police violence, progressive cities like New York, Seattle, Minneapolis, Austin, and Denver cut their police budgets in 2020 even during a national surge in violent crime. That surge has only continued into 2021, in some places by wide margins. The wave of murders in American cities has provoked political backlashes to the cuts, which have forced some local governments to backtrack from their defund agenda.

But that hasn’t stopped demoralized departments from bleeding officers through attrition. Austin, for example, which voted in 2020 to cut its police budget by a third before restoring most of it this year, is losing 15 to 22 officers per month. Its homicide rate is up 88 percent over last year, blowing past a previous homicide record that was set nearly four decades ago.

How do activists justify hobbling cities’ ability to respond to the crime wave by gutting their police forces? Here’s Cat Brooks, perhaps Oakland’s most prominent police abolitionist, in The Guardian: “The goal is to interrupt and respond to state violence,” she explained. “We’re good at responding but the only way you get to interruption is to reduce the number of interactions with police.”

That’s true: If you have fewer interactions between police and civilians, you’ll likely have fewer acts of violence perpetrated on civilians by police. The obvious problem with this “solution,” though, is that you’ll also have more crime.

Does the racial gap in arrests lessen as the crimes get more serious?

Monday, June 21st, 2021

Steve Sailer reviews Charles Murray’s short, lucid book Facing Reality: Two Truths about Race in America about the essential factors influencing society — intelligence and violence:

After The Bell Curve, the great and good made immense efforts to Close The Gap, if only to prove Murray wrong. For example, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, pushed by George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy, mandated the Lake Wobegonization of America: Every single public school student must score “proficient” by 2014.

That didn’t happen.

Similarly, Bill Gates poured huge sums into, first, the “small learning communities” fad of the 2000s and then the “Common Core” whoop-de-do of the 2010s. Neither accomplished anything noticeable.

Today, after 55 years of vast spending to eliminate the race gap on tests, the optimistic centrist education reformers of the “All We Have To Do Is Implement My Favorite Panacea” school are finally out of fashion, leaving Ibram X. Kendi and Charles Murray as the last men standing. One or the other must be right: either Murray (blacks, unfortunately, have problems because they tend to be less smart and more violent) or Kendi (any disparities demonstrate that whites are evil and therefore must pay).

[…]

But, The Establishment no longer really believes that race gaps can be reduced. Instead, the new conventional wisdom is Kendi’s: Tests must be abolished. This will make the problems caused by lower black intelligence go away for Underpants Gnomes reasons.

[…]

Murray, however, has uncovered newly available arrest statistics from the Open Data Initiative by race (with Hispanics usually broken out) and type of crime for thirteen cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

For property crime, Murray finds, Latinos were arrested 1.5 times as often as whites, a modest difference especially considering the disparity in average age.

[…]

Blacks in these thirteen cities were arrested for property offenses five times as often per capita as whites.

Are cops just racistly arresting blacks for ticky-tack property offenses like, say, taking an extra newspaper from the rack?

One way to get a clue about this is to look at more serious incidents, such as violent crimes. Does the racial gap in arrests lessen as the crimes get more serious?

No. Hispanics were arrested for violence about 2.7 times as often as whites, while blacks were arrested almost ten times as much.

How about murder, the most diligently investigated of all crimes?

Latinos are arrested for murder about five times more often per capita than whites, while blacks are about twenty times more likely than whites to be arrested for murder.

[…]

Whether Facing Reality will inspire a desperately needed national conversation on the reality of racial differences, or whether it will be deep-sixed like Human Diversity, remains to be seen.

But Murray has given it his best shot.

Overseas is not an issue for this technique

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

The Wall Street Journal explains how the FBI got Colonial Pipeline’s ransom money back:

Colonial Pipeline provided investigators with the bitcoin address where it paid hackers on May 8, launching them on the trail, according to court records filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The hackers moved the funds through at least six more addresses by the following day, the records show.

On May 13, DarkSide told affiliates that its servers and other infrastructure had been seized, but didn’t specify where or how. On May 27, court records show, a sum including 63.7 bitcoins traced to the Colonial ransom landed at a final address, where the FBI this week seized that portion of the funds.

The FBI said in its request for a warrant Monday that its investigators had in their possession the private key for that address. Officials didn’t elaborate on how it obtained the information, and a spokesman didn’t offer further comment.

The sum recovered by the FBI likely represents a cut of the ransom shared with DarkSide’s affiliates, said Pamela Clegg, director of financial investigations and education at blockchain analytics firm CipherTrace. On May 13, the same day DarkSide claimed its servers had been seized, the remaining funds from Colonial that haven’t been recovered by the FBI were consolidated with other crypto tied to ransom payments in a wallet that now holds about 108 bitcoins, she added.

“Everyone has their eyes on it to see if those funds are transferred,” Ms. Clegg said of the wallet.

FBI officials say the techniques they used to recover some of Colonial’s funds can be used in future cases, including when hackers attempt to transfer cryptocurrency through unfriendly overseas jurisdictions.

“Overseas is not an issue for this technique,” said Mr. Chan of the FBI’s San Francisco field office.

The seeds of the sting were sown when law enforcement agencies took down a company called Phantom Secure

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

The recent global sting is impressive:

More than 800 suspects were arrested and more than 32 tons of drugs seized, including cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines and methamphetamines. Police also seized 250 guns, 55 luxury cars and more than $148 million in cash and cryptocurrencies. An indictment unsealed Tuesday in San Diego named 17 foreign distributors charged with racketeering conspiracy.

The seeds of the sting were sown when law enforcement agencies took down a company called Phantom Secure that provided customized end-to-end encrypted devices to criminals, according to court papers.

Unlike typical cellphones, the devices do not make phone calls or browse the internet — but allow for secure messaging. As an outgrowth of the operation, the FBI recruited a collaborator who was developing a next-generation secure-messaging platform for the criminal underworld called ANOM. The collaborator engineered the system to give the agency access to any messages being sent.

ANOM didn’t take off immediately. But then other secure platforms used by criminals to organize drug-trafficking hits and money laundering were taken down by police, chiefly EncroChat and Sky ECC. That put gangs in the market for a new app, and the FBI’s platform was ready. Over the past 18 months, the agency provided phones via unsuspecting middlemen to gangs in more than 100 countries.

The flow of intelligence “enabled us to prevent murders. It led to the seizure of drugs that led to the seizure of weapons. And it helped prevent a number of crimes,” Calvin Shivers, assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, told a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands.

Friendship cues triggered a habit to please the questioner

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

A psychologist at the University of Western Ontario took a different approach, Charles Duhigg explains (in The Power of Habit), to studying the question of why some eyewitnesses of crimes misremember what they see, while other recall events accurately:

She wondered if researchers were making a mistake by focusing on what questioners and witnesses had said, rather than how they were saying it.

[...]

She saw that witnesses who misremembered facts usually were questioned by cops who used a gentle, friendly tone. When witnesses smiled more, or sat closer to the person asking the questions, they were more likely to misremember.

In other words, when environmental cues said “we are friends” — a gentle tone, a smiling face — the witnesses were more likely to misremember what had occurred. Perhaps it was because, subconsciously, those friendship cues triggered a habit to please the questioner.

But the importance of this experiment is that those same tapes had been watched by dozens of other researchers. Lots of smart people had seen the same patterns, but no one had recognized them before. Because there was too much information in each tape to see a subtle cue.

Once the psychologist decided to focus on only three categories of behavior, however, and eliminate the extraneous information, the patterns leapt out.

The USSS proudly oversees the largest ink library in the world

Friday, March 12th, 2021

Nada Bakos’s CIA unit in Iraq consulted with the leading government experts in forgery, the United States Secret Service (USSS), as she explains in The Targeter:

Along with its highest-profile duty — protecting the president — the service has other branches that do everything from detect counterfeit currency to monitor networks of electronic crime. One branch, some 120 men and women strong, collects ink. More than 8,500 samples of ink, in fact, which have been sent to the USSS from manufacturers since the 1920s.

Each new ink formulation prompts a new delivery, with samples arriving from around the world as liquid in a bottle or perhaps a new batch of pens or refills.

Each time, the team scribbles a sample of the ink onto Whatman filter paper, grade 2 — hence the paper’s common nickname, scribble sheets — tucks it into a protective sleeve inside a binder, then stores it in dark cabinets to protect it against degradation from light, temperature, and humidity. The USSS proudly oversees the largest ink library in the world — and we needed their expertise.

A ruling system that prevents dissent and locks the world into stagnation and inevitable failure

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021

Back in October, 2018, John Robb looked at an insurgency at the crossroads:

Trump’s open source #insurgency often appears unstoppable. All of the traditional methods of political opposition have proven unable to damage it for more than a few days (at most). However, in late October, we saw the outlines of a dynamic that suggests that may not be true for much longer.

[...]

In the last few weeks of October, we saw the following pattern:

An uptick in domestic terrorism connected to Trump’s #insurgency. The Florida Van Man Mail Bomber targeted vocal political opponents. The Kentucky Kroger Terrorist killed 2. The Pittsburgh Synagogue Terrorist killed 11.

To minimize the damage to the insurgency, Trump rapidly shifted the national conversation through something best termed a fast transient. In this case, the fast transient was a proposal to end birthright citizenship through Presidential edict. On cue, the insurgency and the resistance immediately began to battle over the proposal.

However, something new happened. Technology companies, from Facebook to Paypal to GoDaddy, took the opportunity to rapidly deplatform (physically disconnect) many of the people (Proud Boys, etc.) and companies (Gab, etc.) it deemed to be potentially violent.

This new dynamic may be the beginning of the end for the insurgency since it turns a strength of the insurgency into a debilitating weakness.

[...]

The big technology companies represent the third major force in this conflict — in addition to the insurgency and the resistance. Currently, their main source of power is in the physical dimension (attrition warfare). They have the ability to disconnect the insurgency at scale and they just demonstrated they are willing to do that. These violent attacks have provided the technology companies with the justification they need to enter this online war on the side of #resistance.

If this dynamic of violence continues, the global technology companies will join this online war. Here’s what this would mean:

The technology companies would begin to treat the language and the symbology of #insurgency as signs of online terrorism. This would give them the green light to ruthlessly censor it (within seconds of it being posted) and deplatform the people who post it. Moreover, this would be done at scale (tens of thousands a day if necessary) and at the level of individual conversations.

The social AIs being built at the major networks would inevitably end up oriented towards dampening the #insurgency. Slowly at first, but more aggressively as the AIs mature. This capability would likely become exportable, and provide a stealth means of redirecting countries like Brazil, the Philippines, Italy, etc. away from insurgent politics and towards corporate standards.

Efforts by the big technology companies to actively maintain social stability through social AIs, makes us extremely vulnerable to a long night. A world dominated by a system that through naive utopianism or through an aggressive takeover by populist leaders, narrows public thought down to a single, barren, ideological acceptable framework. A ruling system that prevents dissent and locks the world into stagnation and inevitable failure as it runs afoul of reality and human nature.

The only thing tougher than moving illegal drugs across borders is getting the profits back to Mexico’s cartels

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Small cells of Chinese criminals have upended the way narcotics cash is laundered:

The only thing tougher than moving illegal drugs across borders is getting the profits back to Mexico’s cartels, U.S. officials said. Cash is heavy, and transporting it exposes traffickers to lots of risk. Putting it into the banking system is perilous, too. The U.S. and Mexican financial systems have been geared to detect dirty money.

Prosecutors told the court that Gan and his accomplices sidestepped these obstacles by first moving the U.S. cash offshore to China, then on to Mexico. Lim was a linchpin connecting both sides of the Pacific. In her November 2019 plea agreement, Lim admitted to laundering, with Gan and Pan Haiping, about $48 million in drug cash between 2016 and September 2017. She took a 0.5% commission, the agreement said.

Lim testified at Gan’s trial that she had two jobs. The first was collecting drug money in U.S. cities such as Chicago and New York from cartel contacts, typically anywhere from $150,000 to $1 million at a time. She would wait in a public place, armed with a burner phone, a code name and the serial number of an authentic $1 bill. Mexican cartels would pass on her details to their dealer contacts, who would call Lim’s burner phone and use the code name to identify themselves. At the rendezvous point, Lim would give them the $1 bill with the corresponding serial number as a “receipt” to verify the handoff had taken place, Lim said at trial.

Lim’s other job was recruiting businesses in the Chinese diaspora to help them make that cash disappear, Lim and prosecutors said.

Some U.S.-based Chinese merchants have long engaged in off-the-books currency “swaps” to avoid hefty bank fees. Such transactions are illegal in the United States, American authorities said, if they are used by companies routinely to skirt the formal banking system or to operate an unauthorized money transfer business. In some cases these informal, hawala-style transactions are used to help wealthy Chinese move money clandestinely out of China, in violation of that nation’s currency controls.

The operation run by Gan and Pan Haiping grew to include at least three Chinese merchants in New York, who were paid commissions to participate, Lim told the court. The names of the Chinese merchants were not revealed at Gan’s trial, and it’s unclear if they knew of Lim’s links to drug trafficking.

Prosecutors at trial presented testimony, evidence and graphics showing how the transactions worked. At their simplest, authorities said, that process worked as follows: Lim would arrive at one of the merchants with, say, $150,000 in cartel cash. With the businessperson observing, she would open a currency converter app on her smartphone to obtain the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Chinese yuan. She would also hand over the details of a bank account in China given to her by Gan. In what’s known as a “mirror transaction,” the Chinese businessperson would take possession of the $150,000 in U.S. currency while simultaneously transferring the equivalent in Chinese yuan from their own account in China to the bank account number provided by Gan.

The result was that a foreign transfer of funds had been made without involving a U.S financial institution – or the accompanying digital fingerprints. The Chinese business had effectively used yuan from its China-based bank account to purchase cash dollars now on hand in the United States; it earned a commission for its trouble while avoiding bank fees and U.S. government scrutiny.

Meanwhile, Gan had converted U.S. drug dollars into Chinese currency now sitting in a Chinese bank. The only contact with the financial system – a domestic transfer between two accounts in China – would be unlikely to raise red flags with Chinese banking authorities unaware of the money’s provenance.

The crime ring used various Chinese banks for the operations, including the Bank of China, according to WhatsApp messages exchanged between Gan and Pan Haiping. The messages were extracted from Gan’s iPhone by Homeland Security Investigations agents after his arrest, and key excerpts were read out aloud by prosecutors at trial, according to court transcripts.

[...]

“When there is need by the cartels for cash to be laundered, and there is demand for cash from the Chinese, you have a perfect marriage made in heaven,” Im told Reuters. “The Chinese brokers are very important to the Mexican and Colombian cartels.”

[...]

Chinese money launderers are squeezing out Mexican and Colombian rivals by undercutting them on price by as much as half, U.S. officials said. The Chinese operators have been able to do that because they levy fees on both sides of each transaction. They impose fat commissions as high as 10% on Chinese citizens eager to get money out of China. That allows the Chinese money brokers, in turn, to charge traffickers nominal fees of just a few percentage points. The money launderers still turn a handsome profit while locking in a steady supply of coveted dollars and euros from cartel customers.