July 21, 2021

Money Laundering & Gun Trafficking, Main Character Innocence, and As You Like It


crimefictionguns.com (Adam's new online course)

BATFE FY2021 Congressional Budget Submission

 

FBI Investigative Publicity and Public Affairs Unit

FBI IPPAU - Guide for Writers, Authors, and Producers [archived webpage]

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Transcript

This week on the writer's detective bureau money laundering in gun trafficking, main character innocence. And as you like it, yeah, we're talking Shakespeare. I'm Adam Richardson, and this is the writer's detective bureau. Welcome to episode number 111 of the writer's detective bureau. The podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime related fiction. And this week I'm answering questions about who investigates money laundering in gun trafficking,

proving your main characters innocence. And I draw a hopefully useful analogy between the courtroom and show business. This episode is possible. Thanks to gold shield patrons, Debra Dunbar from Debra Dunbar com CC Jameson from CC Jameson com. Larry Keeton Vicki Tharp of Vicki tharp.com. Chrysann Larry darter, Natalie Barrelli Craig Kingsman of Craig Kingsman dot com. Lynn Vitale, Marco Carocari of Marco Carocari dot com.

Terry Swann, Rob Kerns of nightfall, press.com, Mariah stone of Mariah stone.com and Aurora Jacobson, and my Silver Cufflink and Coffee Club patrons as well. You can find links to all of the patrons supporting this episode in the show notes at writers, detective.com forward slash 1, 1, 1 to learn more about using Patrion to grow your author business, or to support this podcast.

Check out writers, detective.com forward slash Patreon, P a T R E O N. This episode is also brought to you by my brand spanking new online course, crime fiction, guns, everything, a crime fiction author or screenwriter needs to know about firearms and ammunition, and none of the random time-wasting stuff you don't up close and detailed explanations on how they work and how your characters use them,

whether that means shooting them or using them as evidence to solve a crime. Plus, we cover how to choose the right firearm for your character to get lifetime access to this course for you, or as a gift for the crime fiction writer in your life. Visit crime fiction, guns.com for our first question that Cindy writes, hello, I just stumbled across your podcast.

And I must say thank you. Oh, you're very welcome, Cindy, what a great resource. I'm a beginning writer and I'm working on a novel where the antagonists are involved in money laundering and illegal gun sales to a cartel. My question would be what specific agencies would be involved in the primary investigation. What would be the terminology to use for these agents,

which specific arm of the agency would be responsible for the actual arrest? Any help you have is appreciated. Thank you so much. First of all, Cindy, welcome to the bureau. We are so happy to have you, and thank you for your questions. The crimes like money laundering and illegal gun sales. Two cartels tend to be investigated proactively because these are crimes that are typically ongoing,

which is different from a reactive investigation, like a murderer or a crime happened once. And we're working backward to prove the who, what, where, when, why, and how and all that stuff. Now, there are a whole slew of agencies, typically federal agencies that could potentially be involved, whether by specific legal purview, like the IRS criminal investigations section,

their special agents have explicit enforcement responsibilities to 18 us code sections, 1956 and 1957, dealing with money laundering and quote. I know that's really helpful, right? Or by some sort of nexus to crimes in their purview. So it could certainly be the IRS criminal investigation, special agents, but then there's also like for example, the ATF or more accurately,

B a T F E the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives who are tasked with investigating obviously crimes involving alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives, but given the nature of types of crimes, the ATF investigates, or more accurately, the types of criminal organizations that they investigate groups that skirt alcohol or tobacco taxation laws or illegal firearms or explosives trafficking are usually involved in other crimes as well,

like money laundering. So even though the IRS has money laundering as one of its key criminal investigation responsibilities, that does not mean the ATF has to hand over the money laundering aspect of an investigation to the IRS or the FBI for that matter. In fact, the ATF has their own internal financial investigative services division F I S D, which according to the ETF's congressional budget submission for fiscal year 2021,

which I will link to in the show notes at writers, detective.com forward slash one 11, the ETF's F I S D supports approximately 650 criminal financial investigations annually. So the ATF financial investigative services division has their own forensic accountants or forensic auditors, which means they are fully capable of running their own money laundering investigations, especially if there's a nexus to a large-scale firearms case.

But as you can likely imagine the FBI, the DEA, us secret service, and plenty of other federal agencies investigate money laundering type cases, as well as you can see, especially as a story creator, the alphabet soup can get pretty thick, which is probably part of what prompted this question from you, Cindy. So to get back to your original question,

who handles these proactive investigations more often than not, it comes down to how the crime was reported or how the agency, whichever agency you're choosing to write about learned about the crime, did an informant for the ATF, provide their handler and ATF special agent with info about the weapons trafficking or did in astute, IRS, criminal investigation, special agent C a SAR or CTR,

a suspicious activity report, or a currency transaction report come through from a bank teller. That was, that handled a transaction that seemed report worthy, or did it come to the FBI's attention during an organized crime related wiretap? And the discussion led to this discovery of this new case. There's more than enough work to go around when it comes to proactive cases.

So the agency that discovers the ongoing series of crimes usually takes the lead, which is good news for you as the story creator, because you get to choose who you want to write about. So you can create progressive complications for your investigators by having it revealed that their new case is actually digging into an ongoing investigation that another agency has going on. And then you can see how the sparks fly between them.

But whomever has the most skin in the game, as they say, usually keeps the primary investigative role. If I had an informant that just told me about the gun sales aspect, and I'm an ATF special agent, and then lo and behold, it turns out the FBI is already up on a full-blown Rico investigation with wire taps and everything. I am not going to be the one running the show.

The FBI might want to coordinate with me and my informant, or they may want to take over running my informant to help bolster their case. And I won't taint your story ideas by telling you my thoughts and feelings on that, but you can probably see how the complications in your story might get progressively worse for your protagonist, depending on their choices. As for the titles of those working the investigation.

If they are employed by a federal law enforcement agency in the United States, they are most likely called special agents unless they are deputy us marshals to learn more about the meaning behind the title special agent check out the 10 minutes 39 mark in episode 108, which is my interview with author and retired chief, deputy us Marshall, Mark Cameron, and also check out the 22 minute and 39 second mark in episode 78,

which is the episode titled security clearances, task forces and FBI RAs. By the way, as a quick research related side note with the revamp, I did have the writer's detective website. If you click on the word search at the top of the writers, detective.com page, you can search the entire back list of podcast episodes for any keyword you're researching and AI powered search results will give you links to the exact moment.

In an episode where I talked about that keyword. So searching for the keyword special agent gave me the results with the links to the 10 minute 39 second mark of episode 1 0 8 and the 22 minute 39 second mark in episode 78 with the player all queued up and ready for you to listen and read along with, with the transcripts where I'm talking about those keywords.

It's an absolutely brilliant tool called Searchie that I pay for each month for you to have access to by the way. So go play with the search functionality. The direct link to the search tool is writers detective.com forward slash Searchie S E a R C H I E. Anyway, let's get back to Cindy. I hope this helps and whichever special agent investigating the case is likely going to be the one making the arrest or in the case of a really large scale case,

like an international arms smuggling and money laundering case, that agent is going to be the key person coordinating the take-down. At the end of the investigation, there would likely be several teams tasked with doing a multi location, takedown, all coordinated to happen at the same time. So every suspect in every related location would have their own take-down team designated and tasked with handling,

serving the search and arrest warrants on the day of the bust and your protagonist. I'm assuming that special agent would be at the center of coordinating all that and likely present for the take-down of the most important person or the most key or important location as well. Thanks again for the question and welcome to the bureau. Cindy, next question comes from Elaine Chisik Elaine writes,

hi, I'm really enjoying your podcasts. They're a great mine of information and very much appreciated. Thank you, Lynn. I've talked in the past to the FBI department, which helps authors and screenwriters with books shows movies, but having someone like you out there really gives us the chance to iron out creases in our writing and hopefully avoid certain cliches and tropes.

Thank you. I appreciate that. And real quick, the department that Elaine is referring to is the FBI's investigative publicity and public affairs unit, which I will also link to in the show notes. Okay, let's get back to Elaine's question. Elaine writes my first two fiction books didn't deal with a lot of police stuff, but the book I'm working on now will concern a lot more police involvement.

And I think that's, what's stumping me. My female main character becomes the subject of a stalker and moves to New York city where she finds work as a dancer in a nightclub. She ends up having an affair with the owner of the club, the male main character who then one morning wakes to find her dead beside him. There's no forced entry and a knife from his kitchen was used to slit her throat.

The readers know it's the stalker, but everything points to the club owner, but he needs to prove his innocence. And I'm just not sure where to go from there. I know the stocker will be the one to give the police the tip. And I know the club owner will be woken by the police entering his bedroom and finding a bloody mess. Obviously they will arrest him on site.

And I know that the club owners, uncle who happens to be the ex New York assistant district attorney will be the one who comes forward and saves the day. But will the police start off by saying it's an open and shut case because of the lack of forced entry and the fact his own knife was used, and there are no other obvious signs of a third person would all that come over in the initial interrogation.

Thanks in advance. Elaine, great story scenario there, Elaine. I'm glad I'm not in the club. Owner's shoes. The burden to prove that the club owner killed the girl is still on the prosecution, which starts with the findings of the police officers that respond to the scene. And then the findings of the forensics team, the detectives and the New York city office of the chief medical examiner.

So even though it seems pretty obvious to at the beginning, they can't rest on their laurels and just kind of phone this case in cause they think it's a slam dunk. The way you paint the story is going to take the reader on that railroading ride toward ruin, right alongside the nightclub owner. So yes, face value makes this look like an open and shut case.

But as the omniscient story creator, what do you know about how the crime unfolded? What should be found that isn't what has been found that can't be logically explained, given the circumstances that the detectives think they know things like a lack of defensive wounds on the club owner or the presence of tranquilizers in his toxicology screen that indicates he may have been drugged or unconscious during that time of death window,

is there a ring doorbell or alarm system that tracks one doors and windows are opened? The sky's the limit with your creativity when it comes to details that can be gleaned after the fact and use to present exonerating evidence by the defense. I would expect the club owner to be interviewed by the detectives as soon as possible. And he'd be read his rights in the process.

It's up to you how he handles this meaning whether he talks to the detectives or ops for a lawyer right away. So consider what you would do in that situation. Consider how it would look to the detectives handling the case. And if you do have the club owner, talk to the detectives, think about what the dialogue with the detectives does and does not give away to the reader.

I know you said that the reader is along as aware that it's the stocker, but you might consider stringing that along a little bit. Interview and interrogation scenes can be tough to write as the dialogue often feels forced because you have so little time, meaning story time to capture believable dialogue without slowing down your story in real life. The club owner might be in that room with those detectives for several hours,

but I'll bet your editor will crucify the scene if it goes on longer than a page or two. So once the club owner has either asked for his attorney or has locked himself into an official story as the, what happened, the detectives likely do, as you alluded to do have probable cause to arrest him for the murder as there's no other probable explanation for the woman's murder at that point,

that gap between enough evidence to say that the club owner's guilt is probable and enough to say that the club owner is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is where your attorney is going to save the day beyond the presence and or lack of evidence from the scene and things not making sense somewhere along the way the club owner or the attorney will need to learn the existence of the stalker and then start working on proving that he,

the stocker was near in round or at the crime scene within the timeframe of the murder taking place from the detective point of view or in this story's case, the former assistant DA's point of view, the job is to look at all the evidence or the lack thereof and plot it against the timeline and use the timeline to prove whether the evidence or the stories of the characters involved are the truth,

or if they mean something else. Thanks for the question, Elaine. I hope this helps a set of questions comes from Amy who writes hi Adam, I'm writing a novel about a woman whose father has been accused of being a serial killer, no DNA evidence nor hard evidence exists yet to link this man to the non crimes. The main character's mother sent potential evidence to the local police just before her death from cancer.

If the police questioned my main character, what kind of information would they divulge to her, if any, in regards to the evidence in the case, and what would their line of questioning focus on? Is there a small detail when questioning a suspect that would negate any possible way of charging him with the crime? In other words, a small mistake that takes away their ability to prosecute without having a body or hard DNA evidence.

Last question, if a child witnesses, crime murder, assault, rape kidnapping by a parent and they don't come forward until adulthood would that adult child ever be accused of breaking the law by not coming forward sooner. Thank you for your time and insight, Amy, thank you so much for the questions Amy, before I get to answering your specific questions. I think it's important that we look again at the typical order of operations when it comes to investigative procedure and due process,

but let's do it through a different perspective this time, all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players, they have their exits and their entrances. Not only did I have to memorize and recite this Shakespearian soliloquy in high school, it holds true when we are drawing similarities between the stage in the courtroom, especially when it comes to keeping things straight,

when it comes to the order in which things happen, the statements made by witnesses and suspects become the script. The evidence collected become the props. The jury quite obviously is the audience where things start to differ is that in court you have two directors who are in real time trying to show the audience, their version of the at hand, like most showbiz productions,

you need to have a decent script or at least an outline or a treatment to get the star cast and committed to a contract in order to make the story. So in this case, the father won't be cast in the role of a serial killer suspect until the detectives can piece together. The story in the first place being accused by an ex wife on her deathbed is not the same as having the government accuse you of a crime formally.

So the deathbed accusation or more accurately, a dying declaration while inherently credible from a legal standpoint is only the very beginning. The fact that there is no DNA evidence nor hard evidence exists yet to link this man to the known crimes means he is not yet a suspect, arguably a person of interest, but there's nothing yet to return to our analogy, cast him officially in the role of serial killer.

The next question I have is what is this potential evidence that the dying mother sent to the police? Is it enough to get them to take a serious look at the connection of her ex-husband as the possible serial killer? And if so, what evidentiary value does it hold? And I'm going to come back to this because I do think it's likely as for questioning the main character,

that daughter of the possible serial killer and daughter of the mother that recently passed away, what are the detectives trying to achieve by questioning her so early in the investigation, other than obviously telegraphing to the potential suspects family that the police might be on to him, we as detectives have to assume that family members are loyal to the suspect and must recognize that anything we divulged to a family member will absolutely be repeated to the suspect,

which not only negates the likelihood that the detectives would divulge anything to the daughter, but also reduces the likelihood that they'd even talked to her this early in the investigation. And the fact that you, Amy are struggling to figure out what the detectives would ask tells me that you're doing a good job of putting yourself in their shoes. Because at this point there isn't much that they could really ask,

right? Other than what, Hey, do you think your dad is a serial killer? Probably not much use than asking that, or probably not much he's in that line of questioning. So realistically the detectives would look at whatever the late mother sent them and assuming they're still actively working, the open unsolved series of murders would take the lead seriously and start doing some sort of surveillance and background investigation into the dad.

If any of the previous murders had DNA evidence left at the scene, the detectives would likely follow the dad until he voluntarily discarded his DNA. And then compare it with the DNA in evidence to answer the, is there a small detail when questioning a suspect that would negate any possible way of charging him in the future? In other words, a small mistake that takes away their ability to prosecute with how having a body or hard DNA evidence.

First and foremost, it's really tough to prove is a serial killer without the body and or DNA. It is possible though, as to the questioning itself, negating a prosecution. The answer is not really, but it depends. Most errors in questioning from a legal standpoint, have to do with violating the suspects fifth and sixth amendment rights. The rights you'd recognize from that Miranda admonishment like obtaining incriminating answers to a question made in a custodial interrogation after the suspect invoked his right to an attorney.

And then using that or trying to use that statement against him, that statement would be thrown out as part of the exclusionary role. But that doesn't mean that DNA found that the crime scene couldn't be used against him. It really depends on the circumstances, but for the most part, there's no secret all encompassing. Jay, get out of jail free detail.

Lastly, if a child witnesses, crime of murder, assault, rape, kidnapping by a parent and they don't come forward until adulthood would that adult child ever be accused of breaking the law by not coming forward sooner. The answer to that is just a flat-out no, in all honesty, once the detectives were pointed in the direction of the father as a possible suspect,

even if it's remote, they would focus their attention on seeing if they can rule him out as a suspect and dig into whether they can prove that anything on their timeline about the crimes line up with timeline aspects, they can prove about the dad do his credit card records, put them in the same neighborhoods as the victims in the same timeframe, do witness descriptions from the times of the crimes match with characteristics or vehicles or clothing that the detectives can prove match with the suspect.

Remember they are writing the script to the play that will play out for the only audience that matters the jury. You need to leave every jury member convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the dad is the only possible person that could have played this role of serial killer. Thank you so much for the questions, Amy. I appreciate it. Thank you so much for listening this week.

This show is powered by your questions. Send them to me by going to writers, detective.com forward slash podcast. If you have questions about firearms, ammunition, how any of that works, be sure to check out the new online course crime fiction guns, which you can find at crime fiction, guns.com. Thanks again for listening. Have a great week, right?