December 06, 2011 — CNN Interview, Mexican, U.S. Officials Denounce Alleged Infiltration Tactics Used by DEA Agents
Allegations surrounding a U.S. investigation that may have involved laundering money for Mexican drug cartels are causing concern on both sides of the border.
In Mexico, lawmakers say they are furious and are demanding an investigation. In the United States, a congressman is broadening the oversight of a previous inquiry to include the most recent allegations.
Felipe Gonzalez, a federal senator with Mexico's ruling PAN party, says they will demand an investigation to determine whether the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration allowed its agents to launder money, possibly even on Mexican soil, as part of an investigation into the inner workings of Mexican drug cartels.
Gonzalez called the situation "really, really bad" and said that "this is not increasing the trust among countries to work together against crime. Furthermore, you can't fight crime by committing criminal acts and violating the law."
Last weekend, the New York Times reported that DEA agents "have handled shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash across borders."
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, announced Monday an investigation into the allegations in his role as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Issa said, "These allegations, if true, raise further unsettling questions about a Department of Justice component engaging in a high-risk strategy with scant evidence of success."
Furthermore, Issa wrote that the existence of such a program again calls Holder's leadership into question.
Tensions stemming from law enforcement actions have long troubled relations between Mexico and the United States. Samuel Gonzalez, a security analyst in Mexico City, says Mexicans are especially sensitive when it comes to their territory.
"Of course there's a jurisdiction problem and, in the end, maybe a violation of sovereignty. That has to be determined and find out where the operations were carried out," Gonzalez said.
Robert Strang, a former DEA agent, says infiltration of Mexican drug cartels is not only happening, but it's essential in investigations aimed at dismantling Mexican criminal organizations by targeting their finances.
"There's only one way really to catch these major drug cartels, the leaders of these cartels, and that's to follow the money, because these leaders don't go anywhere near the drugs themselves. They hire people to do that," Strang said.
As an answer to he allegations published by The Times, the DEA issued a statement Tuesday saying, "We do not discuss the operational aspects of law enforcement activities."
The statement also said that the DEA has been "working collaboratively with the Mexican government to fight money laundering for years. As a result of this cooperation, we have seized illicit transnational criminal organization money all around the world through our partnership with law enforcement."
"The real question here is whether or not undercover agents need to sell drugs, buy drugs, and launder money. And I've got to tell you, there's no way to make these kinds of great international, sophisticated conspiracy cases unless you're going to do that," he said.
Last month, a small group of Mexican legislators requested the extradition of American agents involved in Operation Fast and Furious. This operation, run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, allowed the illegal smuggling of firearms from the United States into Mexico in an effort to learn about smugglers. Many weapons were lost and likely ended up in criminal hands.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to answer key questions about Operation Fast and Furious as he appears Thursday before a congressional panel including Issa, who also is leading the congressional investigation into the flawed gun sting program.
May 14, 2011 — New York Post, "Porn stash found in bin Laden's lair"
Investigators poring over the tons of files, computer drives and other recordings hauled out of bin Laden's million-dollar bunker in Abbottabad, Pakistan, discovered a triple-X-rated porn collection "of modern, electronically recorded video" that is "fairly extensive," it was reported yesterday. The revelation that bin Laden had pornography undermines the message he was trying to send to his followers, said Robert Strang, former co-chair of the New York state Legislature 9/11 task force. "He was inspirational to them [his adherents] in a big way. And the more that comes out about him, the more it shows that he's not the man they thought he was," he said.
May 3, 2011 — msnbc.com, Many Americans ignore 'overly cautious' U.S. travel alerts
Many Americans who venture abroad rarely listen to travel alerts issued by the U.S. State Department because, they contend, the advisories are "overly cautious" and too vague to offer practical value. Instead, some American international fliers say they routinely rely on the "more realistic," less politically tinged travel warnings released by other western nations, including England, Australia and Canada. "American travelers are tired, worn out. We're 10 years from 9/11. I travel all the time and, you know what, people are on autopilot," said New York City-based security expert Bob Strang, who co-chaired New York's Anti-Terrorism Task Force. "They pay no attention." This week's "worldwide" travel alert from the State Department — drafted hours after the U.S. military killing of Osama bin Laden — urged Americans headed or living overseas to "limit travel outside of their homes and hotels" for the next three months, naming no specific cities or nations where trouble may be lurking. "There's not much they do differently" as a result of the latest alerts, Strang said. "All they think is: The line's going to be longer at security and they're going to slow me down driving to the airport. That's about it."
April 2010 — New York Post, Natalee Holloway's Mom Teams Up with Security Team
"The biggest thing about being overseas and outside of the United States is that people don't think about it until it's too late," explained Robert Strang, a former special agent for the DEA in New York City, who heads IMG.
September 25, 2009 — IDDMagazine.com, Giuliani's Firm Looking to Stamp Out Fraud
Robert Strang, CEO of Investigative Management Group, has been performing financial due diligence on behalf of investors for 20 years. Strang, also with a history of working for the FBI in addition to the DEA, says the firm's financial due diligence business has tripled in the past six weeks as capital returns to the markets. "Many investors are global and are not just in the U.S. Fact checking in Eastern Europe and in Asia is the fastest growing part of our business. Many countries don't have the same accounting standards as the U.S., and they have different criminal justice systems. The information available is limited so investors depend on us," Strang says.
June 19, 2009 — IDDMagazine.com, "A Different Kind of Calling"
"Most illegal organized activity is financed through illegal operations. Terrorism is financed through illegal activities and fundraising," says Robert Strang, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent who now runs his own security firm, Investigative Management Group, in New York. So the CIA "wants people to have a background in finance ... who can look at world markets and connect the dots. People who can follow money and trace accounts."
May 11th, 2009 — Daily News, Rudolph W. Giuliani announced relationship with Investigative Management Group (IMG)
Rudolph W. Giuliani announced the formation of a strategic relationship between Giuliani Security & Safety LLC (GSS) and Investigative Management Group (IMG). Mr. Giuliani stated: "Both GSS and IMG have built strong reputations for providing critical assistance to companies confronting an ever-widening range of security and investigative needs, from asset security to internal investigations to corporate due diligence. Through this strategic relationship, GSS and IMG will further expand their global reach and capabilities, bringing truly essential services to companies and governments seeking to protect their people, assets and investments both here in the United States and throughout the international community."
Septemeber 29, 2008 — IDDMagazine.com, "Specter of Fraud
Concerns PE Execs"
Robert Strang, chief executive of corporate investigations firm Investigative Management Group, says fraud often rears its head in times of economic dislocation. However, he notes the circumstances in the latest economic downturn differ in that "in a way the credit markets created this problem." Strang, a former DEA agent whose company works closely with private equity firms on investigative matters, won't identify clients by name. But, he recalls one case involving a manufacturing company that had dire implications for its financial investor. "Our private equity investor was unaware that a second set of [accounting] books existed and by the time they found out about it, it was difficult to turn the company around," he says.
April 21, 2008 — Crain's Magazine, "Firms vie for billionaires' business"
"We provide a high-quality service," says Bob Strang, as principal at Investigative Management Group, an international security agency based in Manhattan. "We're expensive and not for everybody." IMG's services range from surveillance 24/7 to make sure a child hasn't joined a cult to protection on a family trip. Fees per job can quickly leap into six figures.
April 18, 2008 — New York Post, "Trashy WTC Security"
"Any time a sensitive document is unintentionally left behind, it's a treasure trove for a potential adversary," said Robert Strang, CEO of Investigative Management Group, a global security firm. "It enables them to look for vulnerabilities in design that they can target - an age-old military tactic." "Certainly, if you know the thickness of concrete, someone with an explosive background can develop and plot an attack," Strang said.
October 11th, 2004 — USA Today, "Sleuthing comes to this pair naturally"
"If you come to Bob and Ann with a job, and they tell you they can do it, they will do it, and they will do it with discretion, judgment and highest integrity"