Drug Money Gushes Across Border

Crackdown on security fails to put a dent in cartels' wallets
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2010 7:18 AM CDT
Updated Aug 26, 2010 8:28 AM CDT
Mexican soldiers check cars at the customs checkpoint in Miguel Aleman, on Mexico' northeastern border with the U.S., Wednesday, March 18, 2009.   (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

(Newser) – Drug cartels are shuttling money across the US/Mexico border with relative impunity, despite an unprecedented effort to crackdown on the trade. According to a Washington Post analysis, authorities manage to snag no more than 1% of the cash crossing the border. That’s still a lot of money—the US captured $85 million last year—but it’s nothing to the cartels, amounting to less than the fees on a standard wire transfer.

“Cash is the ultimate challenge for us,” said the DEA’s head of financial operations. “It moves so rapidly, so fluidly.” The head of the Border Patrol agent union agreed. “Throw a backpack of cash over the fence into Mexico, and what are we going to do?” he said. “Charge someone with littering in a foreign country?” In Mexico, meanwhile, cartels still routinely manage to corrupt and intimidate customs inspectors.

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