Mexico Still Struggling to Combat Money Laundering: Reports

11/6/2017 InSight Crime

Several recent government reports show that Mexico continues to struggle with combating money laundering, a longstanding problem exacerbated by a lack of political will and an overemphasis on militarized responses to crime.

A classified Mexican government report accessed by Reuters highlights the seriousness of the problem of illicit financial flows in Mexico.

According to the report, which is set to be submitted to an international anti-money laundering body known as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and has not yet been made public, “the view is that the risk represented by illicit funds susceptible to money laundering in Mexico generated within the jurisdiction is HIGH.”

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NEW PUBLICATION: “Following the Money Trail” to Combat Terrorism, Crime, and Corruption in the Americas

Over the past decade, there has been a greater appreciation of how “following the money trail” directly contributes to the fight against terrorism, crime, and corruption around the world. Money serves as the oxygen for any activity, licit or illicit; it is the critical enabler for any organization, from international crime syndicates like the Mexican cartels to terrorist groups like the FARC, ISIS, and Hezbollah. Financial intelligence has helped governments to better understand, detect, disrupt, and counter criminal and terrorist networks and expose political corruption.

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States and its Latin American partners have strengthened their ability to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and consciously incorporated the financial instrument of national power into their national security strategies. “Following the money trail,” counterterrorism, and Drug Kingpin sanctions and asset forfeiture have become particularly important to attack narco-insurgencies, dismantle transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), and address political corruption scandals that have reached the highest levels of governments across Latin America.

This report focuses on the threats from money laundering and terrorist financing, distinguishing the two, and explains government efforts to counter illicit financing. It describes the ways illicit actors raise, move, store, and use money to pursue their dangerous agendas. Specific cases examining the FARC in Colombia, the 2015 fall of the Guatemalan government, and Brazil’s “Operation Car Wash” corruption scandal illustrate how governments use financial intelligence to pursue terrorists, criminals, corrupt politicians, and their financiers in Latin America. Finally, the report emphasizes the need to design, implement, and constantly update national and international strategies to combat the financing of emerging threats like terrorism, crime, and corruption and to safeguard our financial systems.

Download the report

Did Front Man for Fugitive Mexico Governor Acquire Millions in US Assets?

11/01/16 InSight Crime

DuarteAn alleged front man for fugitive Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte has acquired a string of properties in a suburb of Houston, Texas, offering a further demonstration of the importance of the United States in laundering the proceeds of criminal activity in Mexico.

Facing dozens of criminal complaints against him and his subordinates, former Gov. Duarte took a leave of absence from his post in mid-October, just a couple of months before he was set to leave office, and subsequently went underground.

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U.S. extradites businessman accused of drug ties to Mexico

10/18/16 Reuters

The United States on Tuesday extradited to Mexico a businessman accused of working with drug cartels after $205 million in cash was found at his Mexico City home, ending a years-long legal battle.

Zhenli Ye Gon, who was arrested in the United States in July 2007 after the discovery of the cash, faces charges of organized crime, drug trafficking, firearms and money laundering in Mexico, a spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

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Cartels Put Their Money Laundering on Corporate Credit Cards

09/13/16 InSight Crime

credit cards and coinsOrganized crime groups are getting creative with credit cards to move illicit proceeds across international borders without setting off regulatory alarms attuned to cash deposits, money wires or automated transfers.

Transnational organized crime (TOC) groups have dealt with the perennial problem of moving value across borders undetected.

At some point all of these groups deal with the three steps in the money laundering process, but the first one, placement, is potentially the most hazardous hurdle to overcome.

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‘Largest Ever’ Cash Seizure Made on US-Mexico Border

08/30/16 InSight Crime

Authorities in San Diego County, California, have reportedly made the area’s largest-ever cash seizure, drawing attention to the role of bulk cash smuggling as a simple yet enduringly popular money launderingmethod for transnational organized crime.

On August 23, US Border Patrol agents arrested two men in the North County area for attempting to transport more than $3 million in cash over the border with Mexico in separate vehicles.

“This amount of money represents the largest currency seizure ever in San Diego Sector,” Chief Patrol Agent Richard A. Barlow said.

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[Video] Former Mexican Governor Detained in Spain

1/19/2016 Wilson Center Trending

viri wilson center trending

It’s been a good week for Mexican law and order. Following the recent capture of El Chapo, comes the news that Former Mexican Governor Moreira has been detained in Spain as part of an ongoing money-laundering investigation. Wilson Fellow Viridiana Rios provides analysis.

Watch the Video. 

Viridiana Rios, a Global Fellow with the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, is an expert in Mexico’s subnational economy, citizen security and rule of law. She analyzes labor markets, productivity, and development indicators at Mexico, and disentangles how violence, conflict, rule of law, and corruption have affected them. Her career has taken her from positions as public officer and applied researcher, to entrepreneur and journalist. As a public officer, Viridiana has served as adviser to Mexico’s Minister of Finance, and to Mexican President’s Spokesman. As a researcher, she has worked with the Guggenheim Foundation of New York City, the United Nations, USAID, The World Bank, The Center for US-Mexico Studies at the University of California in San Diego, the Trans-border Institute at the University of San Diego, and Mexico’s ministries of social development (SEDESOL), education (SEP), and security (SNSP). In a more entreprenuerial gig, Viridiana directed México ¿Cómo Vamos?, a start-up think tank specialized in translating academic knowledge to the language of policy makers and the press. Finally, as journalist, she has a weekly column at Excélsior, a Mexican national newspaper.

Watch the Video.