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Guns, drugs, and La Barbie: Why America is responsible for Mexican drug cartels

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According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Mexican cartels now dominate the wholesale illegal drug market in the US, both by producing drugs in Mexico and trafficking those grown elsewhere in Latin America. The State Department estimates that 90 percent of the cocaine entering the US transits through Mexico. The cartels are also the biggest foreign supplier of marijuana to the United States, and a major supplier of methamphetamine and heroin. They distribute wholesale to their outlets in more than 2,500 American cities, leaving retail sales to various American gangs.

Mexico’s cartels earn upward of $39 billion annually in illicit proceeds from the United States, the Justice Department estimates. To put that in context, it’s roughly equal to the global annual revenue of Google and Halliburton combined.

What’s more, we help them launder their money. From 2003 to 2008, Wachovia Corp. alone laundered at least $110 million, according to the Justice Department. Wachovia admitted to “serious and systematic” violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and agreed to pay $160 million to resolve the criminal case against them. American Express Bank International and Western Union have also recently agreed to huge settlements with the government for laundering Mexican drug proceeds.

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