Monday, December 5, 2011

US Undercover Agents Launder and Smuggle Money For Mexican Cartels

Undercover US anti drug agents, mostly US DEA have smuggled and laundered millions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels, in an effort to find out how they move their money, root out their leaders, and find out where they keep their assets, reports the New York Times Sunday paper. DEA officials declined to discuss the details of the operations, citing concerns of compromising their investigations. Critics claim these operations violate the law, and are turning these agencies into criminals themselves.

“My rule was that if we are going to launder money, we better show results. Otherwise, the D.E.A. could wind up being the largest money launderer in the business, and that money results in violence and deaths.”

Since 2006, when the government of Mexico decided to launch military action against these cartels, some 45,000 people have been killed. The cartels have terrorized border towns as they battle over lucrative smuggling routes.

US agents have deposited proceeds in accounts designated by drug traffickers, or into shell accounts set up by agents. As undercover agents launder drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years before making seizures or arrests,  said the New York Times Sunday paper.

Michael Vigil, a former senior official, working for a private contracting company named Mission Essential Personnel, was quoted by the paper saying: "We tried to make sure there was always close supervision of these operations so that we were accomplishing our objectives, and agents weren’t laundering money for the sake of laundering money."

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