WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States insisted Tuesday that operations to combat money laundering are coordinated fully with Mexico, amid controversy over a report that US agents laundered drug proceeds to see how the system works.
Responding to a New York Times report, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said “these types of operations are aimed at disrupting these money laundering networks, and they’re fully vetted and fully coordinated with Mexican authorities.”
The Times report on Sunday said anti-narcotics agents working for the US government have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds to see how the system works and use information against Mexican drug cartels.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) works with Mexican authorities to gather and use information about these criminal organizations to counter threats that they pose to both our countries,” Toner stressed.
According to these officials, the operations were aimed at identifying how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep their assets and, most important, who their leaders are, the report said.
The agents had deposited the proceeds in accounts designated by traffickers, or in shell accounts set up by agents, the paper noted.
While the DEA conducted such operations in other countries, it began doing so in Mexico only in the past few years, The Times said.
The Mexican government said bilateral work is done in an existing legal framework that covers activities of international authorities on Mexican territory.
But many politicians in Mexico want more information.
The Senate security committee chairman in Mexico City, Felipe Gonzalez, said President Felipe Calderon should report to Congress on the anti-money laundering operations.
“We want the facts about what has been achieved in terms of arrests, seizures of funds and crime reduction,” said Gonzalez of the ruling National Action Party.
Some 45,000 people have been killed in Mexico since 2006, when its government launched a major military crackdown against the powerful drug cartels.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license