Sen. Felipe Gonzalez, the chair of the congressional joint committee on Public Safety, said he formally asked the government to disclose “if they knew what was being done, how many Mexican agents were involved and who gave permission for foreigners to come to Mexico to conduct this type of illicit activity.”
The New York Times reported Sunday that U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents laundered millions of dollars from drug trafficking to investigate how Mexican cartels move and invest their money.
“Even if some authority knew about it, they violated the law because the customs law says that nobody can transport more than $1,000 and if any citizen does so they throw him in jail,” said Gonzalez, a member of Mexico’s governing right-wing PAN party.
The senator emphasized that if it were not for the journalistic investigations carried out from abroad, these operations would not have become publicly known, since Mexican authorities never talk about them.
He also demanded that Mexican authorities apply the same level of scrutiny to people entering the country from the United States as the U.S. government imposes on travelers from Mexico.
“Let a special program be created so that it can be seen who is bringing weapons from the U.S. and dirty money, which is doing so much damage to us. The laundered money strengthens the cartels and that is (causing) very serious problems for our country,” Gonzalez said.
Drug-related violence has claimed some 50,000 lives in Mexico over the last five years.
The money laundering allegations have revived the controversy that broke out in the United States and Mexico over “Operation Fast and Furious,” a U.S. initiative that allowed thousands of firearms to be smuggled into Mexico in an effort to trace the weapons to cartel bosses.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives lost track of roughly 2,000 guns, two of which were found on the American side of the border at the scene where a Border Patrol agent was killed.
The United States said Tuesday that all operations against money laundering carried out in Mexico are “completely coordinated” with local authorities, but it did not confirm that DEA agents laundered millions of drug trafficking dollars.
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico said in a communique that its government does not reveal the operational aspects of its justice administration activities.
Mexico and the United States maintain “an intense exchange of information” to detect and break up the money laundering networks and are carrying out joint investigations according to the abilities of each, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday.
“Bilateral cooperation is developing strictly within the prevailing legal framework, including that which regulates the activities of foreign authorities on Mexican territory,” said the AG’s office in a communique.