Wachovia Bank Laundered Billions from Mexican Drug Cartels

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


One of the largest banks in the United States — Wachovia, laundered a staggering $378.4 billion dollars of drug cartel cash, a sum equivalent to one-third of Mexico’s GDP.

In a story largely ignored by the U.S. corporate media, a 22-month investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, a picture emerges of cocaine smugglers who had bought a DC-9 jetliner with money they had laundered through Wachovia Bank, now part of the Wells Fargo.

The UK Guardian reports:

On April 10, 2006, a DC-9 landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100 million dollars. But something else – more important and far-reaching, was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

The authorities uncovered billions of dollars in wire transfers, traveller’s cheques and cash shipments through Mexican exchanges into Wachovia accounts. Wachovia was placed under immediate investigation for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program. Of special significance was laundering operation began in 2004 which coincided with the first major escalation of violence along the US-Mexico border that ignited the current drug cartel war.

Criminal proceedings were brought against Wachovia Bank, though not against any individual. But the case never came to court. In March 2010, Wachovia settled the biggest action brought under the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, through the U.S. district court in Miami. However, now that the year’s “deferred prosecution” has expired, the Wachovia Bank is, in effect, in the clear. It paid Federal authorities $110 million in forfeiture, for allowing transactions later proved to be connected to illegal drug smuggling, and incurred a $50 million dollar fine for failing to monitor cash used to ship 22 tons of cocaine.

Jeffrey Sloman, a Federal prosecutor involved in the investigation said:

“Wachovia’s blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations.”

Wachovia Bank was acquired by Wells Fargo during the 2008 financial crash, just as Wells Fargo became a beneficiary of $25 billion in U.S. taxpayers bailout money.

The Mexican drug cartels have become increasingly powerful since the end of Colombia’s Cali and Medellin cartels in the 1990s and now dominate the wholesale illegal drug market in the United States. Between December 2006 and March 2011, an estimated 36,226 Mexicans have been killed in escalating drug cartel violence.

This entry was posted in Corporate Greed, Drug Cartels, International News, Mexico, News, Wachovia and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Wachovia Bank Laundered Billions from Mexican Drug Cartels

  1. Walk on Socks says:

    For the last four or five years, I keep hearing about Ross Perot, Jr., the son and business partner of billionaire H. Ross Perot, who just so happens to own the largest privately owned commercial airport in the state of Texas outside of Fort Worth.

    Anyway, the story goes that Ross Perot, Jr. contracted with the drug cartels for landing rights to allow drugs to come directly into the USA and thus bypass the usual customs control they would fact at DFW or LAX or ATL.

    Of course, I don’t know if the story is true but, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn it is true.

  2. Robyn G says:

    Why am I not shocked that a major bank partnered with drug cartels?

  3. Randy Arroyo says:

    However, now that the year’s “deferred prosecution” has expired, the Wachovia Bank is, in effect, in the clear.

    But if you’re an American and you commit a crime, and you’re convicted, your record will follow you forever effecting your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, get credit and even vote. But a criminal bank gets washed clean. Only in America, baby.

  4. feminazi says:

    This is a fascinating tale. For far too long, corporate entities in the country have been able to skirt laws and get away with murder — literally. Laundering money for the drug cartels means Wachovia helped the drug lords have stash to buy guns and rifles to kill their fellow citizens in Mexico. It also shows that despite laws designed to prevent this from happening, they can easily be broken when no one is watching.

  5. Robert says:

    I am a retired person and throughout my entire life I have been wondering where all the drug money has been going and is still going right now as you read this,… well today I finally have a part of the answer.
    Folks, our system is collapsing right in front of our eyes and not a word about it in the mainstream media. NOTHING…. ZILCH…. NADA…. !!!!!!
    Tell me about the “war on drugs”… How sad.

  6. Pingback: DEA Protecting the Most Dangerous and Powerful Mexican Drug Cartel « Advanced Perspectives

  7. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement? My site has a lot of unique content I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my permission. Do you know any methods to help protect against content from being ripped off? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  8. Moises Nissila,

    Ripped off? I never feel ripped off and quite frankly, I’m delighted when a fellow blogger links to a piece I’ve written.

    If you’re truly worried about copy write infringement I guess a large disclaimer at the top of your blog warning people to not reprint or use anything your write. Just a suggestion.

  9. RJS says:

    You know, a lot of people suspect that the Lone Star state is awash in drug money–the real stimulus program–but the Federal Reserve ain’t saying.

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