U.S. Drug Agents Launder Profits of Mexican Cartels
Remember, everytime money changes hands, someone (or a few someones) gets a cut. Banks charge fees for such things. For the amount of money involved, a lot of fees, probably a percentage—and do they have to declare the money they make “helping” the government? This might be the real story behind the story. Which banks are laundering the money? Which Congress Critters do they contribute to?
WASHINGTON — Undercover American narcotics agents have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds as part of Washington’s expanding role in Mexico’s fight against drug cartels, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials.
The agents, primarily with the Drug Enforcement Administration, have handled shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash across borders, those officials said, to identify how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep their assets and, most important, who their leaders are.
They said agents had deposited the drug proceeds in accounts designated by traffickers, or in shell accounts set up by agents.
The officials said that while the D.E.A. conducted such operations in other countries, it began doing so in Mexico only in the past few years. The high-risk activities raise delicate questions about the agency’s effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime. As it launders drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years before making seizures or arrests.
Agency officials declined to publicly discuss details of their work, citing concerns about compromising their investigations. But Michael S. Vigil, a former senior agency official who is currently working for a private contracting company called Mission Essential Personnel, said, “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.”
seems the Money Trail Initiative has been going on for a few years (2003).
Multi-drug enterprises: What happens to all this money?
The Indictment charges that from approximately 1998 through December 2005, TREMBLAY used Dominion Investment accounts to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in the proceeds of international narcotics trafficking, securities fraud scams, income tax evasion, mail and wire fraud schemes, and bank fraud, among other crimes. TREMBLAY then laundered the illicit funds by transferring them into United States bank accounts and offshore bank accounts in Canada, the Bahamas, and elsewhere around the world. To further conceal the source and nature of these funds, TREMBLAY and his co-conspirators created shell companies and fictitious entities, using the same false nominees, addresses, and telephone numbers, to launder these illegal proceeds. The Indictment alleges several specific instances of large quantities of illicit funds being laundered through Dominion Investment accounts including $50,000,000 in the proceeds of a tax evasion and wire fraud scheme; $3,000,000 in the proceeds from the sale of GHB kits, more commonly known as the “date-rape drug”; and millions of dollars derived from cocaine trafficking and numerous stock fraud schemes. Between 2003 and 2004, TREMBLAY laundered more than $1 billion through his Dominion Investments-related bank accounts. The Indictment includes a forfeiture allegation seeking forfeiture of these funds.