A Scottsdale man was indicted by federal authorities Tuesday in connection with laundering more than $50 million primarily used for illegal human trafficking and illegal drug activity.
“This is a significant case — we’ve followed it for about a year,” said Andrea Esquer, spokeswoman for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
Bruce Dennis Love, 50, was charged with conspiracy, participation in a criminal syndicate, money laundering, illegally conducting an enterprise and fraud, according to the indictment released Tuesday.
Love is accused of controlling approximately $56.8 million through three stores that conducted Western Union services among other services, according to the indictment.
If convicted, Love could face a prison sentence of up to 100 years if served consecutively or 23 years if served concurrently. Two other women are also listed in the indictment, but their full names have not been released.
Authorities believe that the money was laundered to human smugglers and drug dealers and were alerted to the suspicious transactions by employee statements, court-ordered Western Union data, and “on-site” investigations at the locations.
“There’s a requirement to fill out and report suspicious behavior (to Western Union), and they didn’t do this,” Esquer said, referring to faulty reports filed by the company.
Court documents said investigators seized thousands of dollars based on suspicious transactions and even followed suspects to their stash houses, where many illegal immigrants were discovered and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Authorities believe that money given to smugglers were payments to transport illegal immigrants to their destinations, or illegal proceeds generated by drug trafficking organizations.
Love is listed as the owner or main shareholder of two business entities, BMR and BMN, that had stores in the Valley.
The stores were located on North 19th Avenue, Phoenix; West McDowell Road, Phoenix and North Country Club Drive in Mesa; money transmitters such as Western Union were used in transactions, according to court documents.
Elena Grimaldo, general manager of BMN, stated in court papers that she believed that 100 percent of the McDowell store was smuggling-related, and that 80 percent of the Country Club Drive store was, too.
In interviews with authorities, employees and partners listed many reasons for their suspicion regarding smuggling-related transactions: People would often tip the clerks for complicity and allow them to keep from $20 to $100 out of their wire transactions; clients often did not know their own addresses and would provide only partial information; Social Security numbers and identification often appeared false.
Love managed the BMR business with partners from January 2002 to December 2003. The company was taken over by BMN in about April 2004 and continued until 2006.
Love’s arraignment is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 30 in Maricopa County Superior Court.