Of the DEA’s Top Fugitives, Almost All Were Born Outside the U.S.
While many liberals love to extol the fact that immigrants bring unique talents and immeasurable skills to our country, statistics compiled by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and affiliated government bureaus tell a different tale. The fact of the matter is that out of the DEA’s 767 fugitives with identifiable birthplaces, 83 percent of them hail from countries that are not the United States.
(Yup, unique talents – gangs!)
On his eponymous Fox News show, host Tucker Carlson declared that “in effect, the U.S. has imported a foreign criminal class that operates a multi-billion dollar drug trade within our borders.”
In the U.S.’s most violent cities, foreign-born fugitives dominate lists of the most-wanted criminals. In one example, in Detroit, only 7 percent of the DEA’s fugitives were born in America. In some DEA divisions, such as those for Dallas, Seattle, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York, most-wanted lists contain not a single U.S.-born person.
This data vindicates President Trump’s initial campaign speech, in which he castigated Mexico for sending some of its worst offenders north of the border to the United States.
While it’s true that, given the global nature of the drug business, many of the heads of international cartels are likely not to have been born in the U.S., it speaks volumes that so many of them are on American most-wanted lists for people who are already inside our country.
They clearly were able to come across our borders — whether legally or otherwise — and they’ve spread their criminal networks and enterprises throughout our cities and communities like a cancer.
This isn’t just a recent phenomenon; as movie buffs of the 1980s can tell you, the film “Scarface” was based on the tale of a Cuban immigrant who was released from prison as part of the Mariel Harbor “Boat Lift” that brought thousands of Cuban refugees to our shores in Florida. The character goes on to become a drug lord in Miami and is responsible for the deaths of dozens of people.
At the time it was made, the film may have seemed like colorful fiction, but the epidemic of violence on the streets of South Florida and the massive amount of drugs flowing into the country in those years has been well chronicled. Also documented is the fact that perhaps half of the skyscrapers in Miami’s striking skyline were originally financed with proceeds from drug sales.
A five-part series in the New York Times about high-priced Manhattan condominiums found that a significant portion of purchasers of high-end New York real estate had dubious backgrounds and foreign origins. The fact that real estate laws in New York allow for purchasers of expensive properties to hide behind shell companies makes it almost impossible for investigators to know who exactly is financing specific transactions or where the money is coming from.
At Manhattan’s famed Plaza Hotel building, 69 percent of the residences are owned through paper shell companies. At the city’s new One57 tower — the second-tallest residence in the city — the figure of shell-company buyers is 77 percent. In many cases, foreign purchasers don’t even inhabit the properties they buy.
In some cases it’s estimated that as many as half of all luxury units in Manhattan may be unoccupied by their actual owners; they merely serve as investment vehicles that allow the buyers to “park” their funds in a way that’s less traceable, hugely profitable and secure within U.S. borders.
When reporters working for the Times went to visit many of these properties, they were turned away by doormen or in a few cases by the occupants of the units, who demanded to know how the Times had tracked them down. Some had purchased the units for their spouses or their family members; others had simply bought them through nominees or front companies.
In the cases of the worst offenders, there were clear ties to known criminal organizations in Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia. The Times documented that the elite Time-Warner Center, home of the New York City Mandarin Oriental Hotel, housed no less than 16 foreign-born buyers, including several corrupt Russian officials, who had been the target of government inquiries.
Even in President Trump’s home of Trump Tower, the FBI surveilled Russian gangs running gambling and drug operations. The well-known New York art dealer Helly Nahmad had purchased all of the units on the 51st floor of the tower before he and his brother Ilya were arrested and sent to prison for running one such network.
Nahmad’s father David was fingered as a seller of stolen art in the Panama Papers leak of 2016. On Floors 48 and 49, convicted bank defrauder Ernesto Garcia currently resides, while on Floor 41, the former administrator of the Brazilian FIFA soccer confederation served house arrest.
Sellers of New York real estate defend the practice of nondisclosure of buyers; they say it helps protect the privacy of celebrities and other wealthy individuals who would prefer not to be hounded by fans or the press.
But inadvertently, the laws make it easy for criminals who do business both inside and outside the country to hide their money and possibly themselves while simultaneously being protected by the U.S.’s secure national infrastructure.