Mexico: Drug cartels laundering money with construction equipment

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The government crackdown on drug proceeds is forcing Mexican drug cartels to launder their profits through businesses on the north side of the border. That’s according to active and retired DEA agents who spoke to CBS 5 Investigates.

One of the more unusual businesses now involved, according to those agents, is the construction equipment trade. “If there is a way that the bad guys can launder money, the bad guys will find it,” said retired DEA agent Phil Jordan.

At one time, Jordan was the agent in charge of the agency’s Phoenix office. An active agent explained how the cartels are using heavy equipment in their efforts to turn drug money into clean money. A cartel operative will buy construction equipment for cash. Using a straw seller, they send the equipment to an auction. The transaction usually involves a loss, but that’s the price of doing business, according to the agent.

“The original investment was narco dollars,” said Jordan. “And now they washed it and at the end of the line it comes out clean.”

Because the money can now be traced to a legitimate business transaction, it can also be wired across the border to Mexico through the banking system.

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