Anderson Cooper did a piece for 60 Minutes tonight on the Mexican drug cartels, and generally he did a good job in presenting a concise overview of the issues. However, the segment failed to address the horrific violence perpetrated by the drug cartels on the U.S. side of the border in cities such as Phoenix, AZ and Atlanta, GA, and failed to address the role by U.S. financial institutions and money managers in laundering some $38 billion in drug money for the cartels every year.
Cooper interviewed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano who recognized that the drug cartels pose an ominous threat to national security but she otherwise appeared a tad clueless about how to tackle the problem. Although Napolitano seeks to interdict more U.S. guns flowing into Mexico, greater law enforcement on this particular front will do little to disarm the narco terrorists. In fact, there is no reliable data on the extent to which guns used by the drug cartels are even from the United States. Mexican authorities contend that 90 to 95 percent of the guns they seize are American but inexplicably refuse to identify the serial numbers on the weapons to confirm the claim.
Los Zetas, which provides paramilitary muscle for the Gulf Cartel, is run by former soldiers, and given the rampant corruption within Mexico's institutions its military may be a likely source for arming it. One thing's for sure: the hand grenades that Los Zetas is lobbing around are from North Korea. In any event, even if the United States were successful in stopping the illegal flow of all guns south of the border, the drug cartels are sufficiently cash rich that they would find replacement sources quick enough. If Secretary Napolitano really wants to hit the drug cartels then she better figure out how to stop the flow of cash -- not guns -- into Mexico.
The Los Angeles Times implores "the Obama administration . . . to tackle other key elements of the drug business" including money laundering: "the U.S. government must crack down on drug-money laundering with the same rigor it has applied to terrorist finance networks." To date the politicians have done nothing to deny the drug cartels their illicit profits from the United States, and refuse to enact tougher money laundering laws and fail to enact meaningful "Know Your Customer" regulations. The U.S. bankers and other financial advisors for the drug cartels must be making some hefty campaign contributions.