Time to go after the drug money

July 17, 2009

Drug violence in Mexico is intensifying even by traffickers’ barbaric standards.

In recent days, heavily armed hitmen launched coordinated attacks on federal police stations in western Mexico and dumped the semi-naked, bloodied bodies of 12 federal agents by a mountain highway, killed two U.S. Mormons in their Mexican community and killed a mayor in a northern ranching town.

A surge of 10,000 troops and federal police in Ciudad Juarez has failed to stop the killings there, which are in fact higher than last year when there were only a handful of soldiers on city streets.

President Felipe Calderon says the violence is a sign the drug gangs are weakening, but with 12,800 drug war deaths since he took office and reports of rights abuses by soldiers, calls are growing for a change of strategy.

Those making the calls include senators from Calderon’s own party, opposition politicians, security analysts, Mexico’s Human Rights Commission and international rights groups. But few if any are coming forward with proposals because the police forces that would replace the soldiers on Mexico’s streets are corrupted and a drive to clean them up could take years. For now, Calderon is sending 5,500 more troops and police to his home state of Michoacan to stop the flare-up there.

One thing Calderon could do to weaken traffickers is to go after their cash. That could have a domino effect on cartels’ power to buy guns and to corrupt officials. Headline-grabbing army operations may seem more impressive than the behind-the-scenes work of tracing money laundering, but U.S. anti-drug officials say it is key to Mexico’s success.

So far, Mexico has fallen short. An International Monetary Fund report published in January found Mexican authorities have only made 25 convictions for money laundering since in 1989 and Mexican law does not allow for the quick freezing of traffickers’ assets. In short, Mexican money laundering laws do not meet international standards and many cases are not properly investigated.

With $40 billion at the heart of the drug war every year, surely it shouldn’t be too hard to find some of the dirty money.

14 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

The best weapon to fight Drug is to get reed of Hypocrisie…

Posted by blablabla | Report as abusive

I think every person who still supports the Drug War should be given a rifle to go down and fight the druglords that their political stance does everything to employ.See what they think of it then, it’s obvious that having now wasted a trillion dollars with no results isn’t enough to change stances.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

Go after their cash? ..that’s *exactly* what we need to do!But don’t wait until *after* they’ve sold their drugs to Americans and have gotten the money in their possession – prevent them from ever getting the cash in the first place!License reputable businesses to legally produce and sell marijuana to adults at a price too low for the drug dealers and cartels to match. The result for the cartels will be NO customers, NO marijuana sales, NO profits and no need or ability to commit these horrific and endless murders.

Posted by EndtheProhibition | Report as abusive

As a defender of law and order, I advocate re-legalizing all drugs. Individuals under the influence of drugs rarely commit crimes. Drug related crime occurs when the law stops a person from getting the drug they desire. Respect for law enforcement and the court system would be restored. Police would have the time and resources to go after rapists, murderers, thieves and other dangerous criminals. The same way corruption and gang land violence came to an end after the end of alcohol prohibition. The violence from the war on drugs would end.

Posted by Fred Handle | Report as abusive

All the money the cartels are making would dry up if we were allowed to grow our own marijuana for personal use. Pass out seeds!! You would put a death crimp in the profits of the gun makers and gun users. Stop the madness!! Put them out of business at their own game.Not only that, legalize hemp for the production of fiber, fuel, and feed.This is a fixable problem, folks. The time is NOW!!

Posted by Becomeafarmer | Report as abusive

The best way to fight Drug is law. When law against drug is enforced and the court system is optimized, the violence from drug will end. Furthermore the fight agaist drug is the work of all the people and all the nations.

Posted by Javis chen | Report as abusive

Legalize drug use in the USA. The only real solution to these problems.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

I have been performing aerial surveys of the border for three years. An analysis of the data shows that the Mexican drug war was set off when we started getting serious about fences and vehicle barriers. All we have to do is finish the job spelled out in the Secure Fence Act of 2006 and the drug money will dry up fast.

Drug money has always seemed to be one of the best assets for raising capital amongst jurisdictions. The money doesn’t originally come from drug dealers. It comes from drug addicts who 90% of the time are receiving some kind of “assistance” from their respective governments who actually are funded by taxpayers. What goes around comes around. When drug money is seized, it is being put to good use to pay informant, buy weapons for policia and cops and keep them supplied with the best body protection.All compliments of the tax payers . . . the only sad part is the addicts / dealers are the middle men who handled the money. Let the police do their jobs.

Glen spencer is right on the fencing. Our coast guard and homeland security need too get ready for the carnage too come from these cartels. Furthermore, why are the enviromental groups more intrested in stopping the fencing from being completed on the borders of theU.S. And EVERY National forest along the mexican american side is being trashed by Illegal crossers with drugs on backpacs.killing wildlife,cutting trails that was once pristine forest, And worse leaving trash and human waste.You, taxpayer, when is enough for enoughOn you.

Posted by american patrol minuteman | Report as abusive

Why doesn’t the Mexican government take the drug dealers’ money in the courts? Because many in the corrupt Mexican government are part of the drug cartel ring. If they could follow the advise in the editorial it would surely have influense HOWEVER most likely the courts are filled at every level with people on the take for the drug cartel.Before we legalize drugs in the U.S. – let’s legalize murder, kidnapping and all other crimes first.

Posted by RobinH | Report as abusive

Mexico has fallen short of tracing money laundering, what a surprise how could that be possible ay? Could it be that the whole political system is corrupted by drug money and that they’re not too keen to expose themselves?

What is pathetic is that Americans are incapable of controlling their urges for drugs. “Let us grow our own marihuana” “Let’s legalize it”. Can’t you druggies stop smoking, injecting, popping, snorting and other ways to fry your brain? Every time you snort coke, smoke marihuana or do other drugs you are consuming the blood or others.

Posted by RGB | Report as abusive

in order to be able to go after drug profits , it’s necesary first, to have able fiscal and legal capable people on both sides of the border in close cooperation and in sinch with both goverment agencies well articulated policies , for is the only way to be efective.

Posted by jorge m gomez | Report as abusive