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Mexican Cartels Find Success in Banking Arrangements

When you stop to think about the amount of money that changes hands in drug deals and trafficking operations, do you wonder how all of that cash is handled? Yes, it could be kept under a mattress somewhere, but in reality that does make sense when you consider the volume and the risk associated with that practice.

Instead, these criminals must rely on banks like the rest of us, only they seem to get a certain level of special treatment. And, according to the Vancouver Sun, the latest report is that drug traffickers love the service and cooperation they get from their banks.

These illegal cartels often rely on international financial institutions to launder money. Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp. both presented effective cooperation to these cartels. In fact, it turns out that Wachovia had a habit of moving money for Mexican drug smugglers.

Wells Fargo purchased Wachovia in 2008 and the company had to admit in court a failure to monitor and report suspected money laundering activities by known narcotics traffickers. The particular case in question included enough cash to purchase four planes that were then used to ship 22 tons of cocaine into areas of high demand.

In the overall drug trade, there are a number of international banks involved, yet very few of their activities are actually documented. This is especially true for banks in the United States, a country that also seems to be fueling most of the illegal drug demand.

Wachovia, for one, was involved in the illicit handling of $378.4 billion in U.S. funds for Mexican currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. This activity is to date the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act in U.S. history.

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