Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Monday, April 23, 2007

One Face of Northern Idaho Organized Crime

Whitecaps' April 7, 2007, post titled The (non)Faces of Organized Crime in Northern Idaho observed:

Organized crime is not a caricature of some real or fictional man or woman. Organized crime is patterns of behavior designed to accumulate huge amounts of money and other valuable assets, legally when possible, illegally when necessary or when it would be more profitable, violently when subtlety fails or is inconvenient.
That doesn't mean organized crime in northern Idaho doesn't have a face. It means it can have many faces.

In an online article dated April 23, 2007, and headlined Cigarette smuggling case winds down, The Spokesman-Review staff writer Bill Morlin puts a "face" on one lucrative northern Idaho criminal enterprise.

Morlin's article reveals something else, something that should send a jolt of paralyzing fear through the veins of other north Idaho residents and public officials whose greed has seduced them into criminal enterprise: The feds know northern Idaho is fertile ground for organized crime, and they're paying attention. Very close attention.

There were many details in Morlin's story that make that last point.

  • The cases didn't go to trial. The defendants pleaded guilty. If you're guilty, your best hope is to become a cooperating witness before being arrested. If you're guilty and are arrested, guilty pleas almost always yield a better outcome than going to trial against overwhelming evidence.
  • Washington State estimates it lost approximately $56 million in tax revenue in the criminal enterprise. This was not small potatoes crime.
  • The criminal enterprise was run out of a home near Plummer, Idaho, population fewer than 1,000 people. Organized crime is not a big-city phenomenon. It's in rural areas, too.
  • The predicate crimes: Trafficking in contraband cigarettes; money laundering; mail fraud; interstate transportation in aid of racketeering; cigarette record-keeping violations.

It was especially significant to see that the guilty pleas were also for conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The predicate crimes noted can be investigated and prosecuted by the appropriate US Attorney's office in their respective judicial districts, however a RICO prosecution requires oversight and approval from an Assistant Attorney General in the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC. Prosecution under RICO clearly demonstrates to all who care to see that organized crime in northern Idaho is on a very large radar screen.

It may also surprise some people to note the Federal Bureau of Investigation was not named as one of the investigating agencies. This organized crime enterprise was very successfully investigated by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Labels: , , , ,


Anonymous stebbijo said...

Rural Idaho appears to think they are so far from the legal loop of society they will never get caught.

I did not realize tht the FBI could 'turn' folks into being CW's - that's a novel process.

I know that recently Infinity Financial was caught with some money laundering (20 million or so invested into real estate ect) - based out of Priest River, Idaho. The U.S. Att. has that one here in Idaho - however, nothing has been said about the outcome that I know of. They must have turned into CW's. I know several suspects names were only listed as initials according to the article I read a month or so agao. It's probably the whole town. .... I guess folks should be nervous. ;-)

However, what's the point if they are never punished? Are the feds after a really big fish that they want to catch?

8:55 AM, April 23, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Thanks for reading and commenting.

Oddly enough, the attitude you ascribe to rural Idahoans is one common to almost everyone voluntarily in organized crime. They truly believe they're smarter, more clever, and more cunning that the law. They continue to have that high opinion of themselves right up until their last appeal to get out of prison fails. Then reality sets in.

Any federal agency is willing to talk with a cooperating witness. If the CW has committed a crime, the agency cannot and will not guarantee anything other than to make the US Attorney and the court aware of the witness's cooperation. There are no promises.

Federal cases are rarely resolved quickly. Often the arrest opens new doors that require further investigation before ever going to trial on the first case. Some cases almost always require that a federal grand jury be convened. If you read the article in today's paper, the crimes allegedly occurred between 1999 and May 2003. OC cases take time to do properly.

It depends on what you mean by punishment. While most people get a rush of satisfaction seeing some OC figure led off to prison in cuffs, that does almost nothing to compensate the victims. Particularly with financial crimes the best hope of real satisfaction will come through civil recovery of damages against the defendant. Of course, that's only a good outcome if the deft has assets that can be seized and liquidated for damages.

9:06 AM, April 23, 2007  
Blogger E. H. said...

Okay, so the feds are keeping us safe from sexitarians selling cigarette's. Ya, yahoo, whippee. I feel so much safer.

8:14 AM, April 24, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Maybe they were just warming up?

9:41 AM, April 24, 2007  
Blogger E. H. said...

maybe. say while we are on the subject I have a "slightly used" 1994 S-10 Blazer I will sell you. Runs great (in reverse)just needs a little work ( new transmission).

11:30 AM, April 24, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Wow! Hey, how about this: Have the City of Expedience's Lake City Development Corporation declare your Blazer a blighted vehicle. The trick is, you have to convince them you don't really need a car. Sooner than you can say "sawdust in the transmission", you'll be driving a brand shiny new 2007 model SUV. Part of the deal is they'll pay you back for the car, with interest, and you'll still own the car.

11:40 AM, April 24, 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home