Why are you asking me for personal information?We collect personal information including your contact and demographic information for the purposes of identification, account administration and display of personalised content and advertising. DRUG traffickers, like everyone else, only want money because they want what money can buy. The criminals are responding by piggy-backing on cross-border trade to launder their gains. On September 10th roughly 1,000 law-enforcement officials raided the Garment District of Los Angeles, seizing at least $US65m in cash and arresting nine people. Such schemes are not new, but they have become more popular as it has become harder to use the banking system to move money.
The United States has also ramped up its scrutiny of large cash transactions and taken a much firmer line against banks.
That helps explain why drug kingpins are targeting businesses in Los Angeles, from toy manufacturers to clothing wholesalers, as ways to send money back home.


If industrial-scale laundering is happening, say some, smallish manufacturers and cash deposits cannot be the only conduit (Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto this month announced that he would ease rules on cash deposits of dollars for firms).
But turning dirty cash from drug sales into clean, usable currency has become harder for Mexican drug gangs as a result of tighter banking regulations at home and in the United States, their main market. According to court documents, several garment businesses allegedly helped drug traffickers ferry proceeds from sales back into Mexico. Black-market peso brokers contact Mexican importers who want to buy goods from a business in Los Angeles. In 2012 HSBC paid $US1.9 billion to regulators in the United States to settle accusations that, among other things, it had failed to monitor transactions involving Mexican drug gangs. Estimates vary widely but the Department of Homeland Security reckons that traffickers send as much as $US29 billion back to Mexico every year from the United States. Better to look, too, at capital flows in other industries–property, tourism and the like.


Getty Images reserves the right to pursue unauthorized users of this image or clip, and to seek damages for copyright violations. The broker then finds a gang associate in the United States to pay the bill on behalf of the Mexican importer, using dollars from drug sales.
It later imposed reporting requirements on cash payments above a certain threshold for items like homes, cars and so on. The importer pays the broker in pesos; the broker takes a cut and passes along the remainder to the gang in Mexico. Create your slideshowBy using the code above and embedding this image, you consent to Getty Images' Terms of Use.



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