Porsches, Drugs and Money: A Look Into ICE Investigation of Drug-Running Used Car Lot
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and Dallas County constables had been watching Star Auto Sales, a North Dallas used car dealer, for nearly 10 months before they made their move on February 18; bearing a search warrant, officers from both agencies flipped through the dealership's financial records and searched its cars. In the trunk of a '93 Mercedes they found 14 kilograms of marijuana, Ziploc bags and a digital scale. In a black bag inside a 2002 Porsche, they found $10,000 in rubber-banded $20 bills.
Those two cars and the cash seized in that raid are at the center of a motion for forfeiture filed Monday in U.S. District Court, and the accompanying narrative written by the ICE agent working the case offers a detailed look at a 10-month investigation into a family-run car dealership that, according to the agent's report, fronted a huge business moving pot and cocaine.
In the company's financial records, the agent details a string of transactions under $10,000 -- "structured" deposits kept small enough to keep banks from reporting the deposits to the IRS. It isn't the first time Akbar Afshari, who ran the dealership with his son Payam, has turned up tied to cars forfeited in drug raids, according to the agent's affidavit, which lists a handful of similar incidents, including one in which Afshari held a lien on a Volvo tractor used to run immigrants across the border. From 1996-97, Afshari was convicted of "structuring related to a drug conspiracy" too -- but earned a quicker sentence for spilling the details of his co-conspirators' operation.
We're waiting to hear back from the U.S. Attorney's Office for more details on what came of the investigation into Star Auto Sales and the Afsharis -- according to the report, neither the father nor the son were arrested during the raid -- but read on after the jump for the agent's full report on the cars and cash.
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