Regarding that used car lot funding terrorist activity…
7:00 AM EST on December 20, 2011
Well, this is awkward.
Used car salesmen have always had a bit of a sketchy reputation, but their transgressions are typically limited to trafficking rickety pieces of shit complete with a complimentary "dead body" aroma. When a business's shady doings are escalated to bankrolling bombs and guerrilla attacks, well, it's natural to feel another wave of guilt about that 1996 junker you so generously purchased for your high schooler.
From News 9:
The U.S. Justice Department says a Tulsa used car dealership is one of about 30 U.S. car buyers that are part of a money-laundering scheme which used the U.S. financial system to benefit the militant group Hezbollah.
The allegations came out late Thursday in New York - claiming the Ace Auto car lot at 11th Street and Sheridan is part of a huge network that is selling cars - and drugs - and using the money to support terrorism against the United States.
According to a complaint filed in a New York City federal court, the scheme involved funds sent from Lebanon to the U.S. to buy used cars, which were then transported to West Africa.
Cash from the sale of the cars, along with proceeds of narcotics trafficking, were then funneled to Lebanon through Hezbollah-controlled money laundering channels.
Despite the American flags on nearly every car, federal investigators say Ace Auto used car dealership is really a money laundering operation that benefits Hezbollah - the second most deadly terrorist group behind Al-Qaeda.
Police officers were checking VIN numbers of all the cars at the business, while FBI agents were in the offices. Federal agents hauled out documents, questioned employees - and took inventory of the cars.
It wasn't clear if anyone was arrested onsite.
"They're making big time money and it's going right into weapons, training, funding, things need to carry out terrorist attacks around the world," said Rusty Payne, DEA.
Ace Auto Mart has several distinct businesses, with separate bank accounts, and investigators say the money was moved between them as part of the laundering operation.
"Some of that money is flowing back to the United States, back to these used car companies, to buy more used cars and ship them to West Africa to sell them at a profit and then mix that money in with the drug dollars," Payne said.
First of all, let's take a minute to applaud Oklahoma's Own and their engaging, concise articles. The fact that traditional newspapers are folding left and right completely floors me. I mean, who wants to hear pundits like Rachel Maddow and Clark Matthews and my number-one homegirl Nancy Grace talk about the state of the world when we have fine publications producing well-written stories like this.
Since that story was a little dry to get through, here's the gist: Ace Auto used car dealership, which kind of just looks like a typical shitty north Tulsa establishment, is actually an alleged hub for laundering money to Hezbollah, a terrorist organization. And a rough band at that--click here for their comprehensive resume, but it's safe to say that their agenda is a little more devious than Nancy Botwin's bakery or Morrie's Wig Shop.
While we all want to support our Oklahomies and roll out for small businesses, it kind of sucks when this sort of thing come out of the woodwork. It's common knowledge that Target supposedly hates gay people, yet we all still shop there. Not everyone lives their life with enough conviction to give up succulent roasted duck like Elaine Benes did in the name of pro-choice. However, we can all agree that unknowingly contributing to radical, violent organizations is more than a little disheartening. If you were one of the people who shopped for beaters at Ace Auto, don't get down on yourself too hard. After all, differentiating a regular ole' sketchy used car shop from an straight-up evil one is nearly impossible.
Have a merry Christmas and a happy hangover from your number one T-Town trick, @xCawoodstock