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Thursday, July 15, 2010

U.S. banks laundering Mexican cartels' drug money

American Scofflaw

A report in the August 2010 issue of Bloomberg Markets magazine sheds light on the role that U.S. banks have played in helping to finance the violent drug trade that has plagued the U.S. - Mexico border for years, resulting in over 22,000 dead on both sides of the border since 2006. Among the dead are police, soldiers, journalists and ordinary citizens.

Last December, a statement by Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, was largely dismissed by U.S. corporate media. He said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organized crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352 billion of illegal drug profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.

A document obtained by Bloomberg seems to confirm Costa's statement. It is an agreement between Wachovia, now owned by Wells Fargo & Co., and U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors in which Wachovia officials admit the bank had not done enough to watch for money-laundering schemes among some $378 billion it transferred between its branches and Mexican currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. Wachovia has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers - including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine.

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