Forget impeachment. Forget the Mueller Report. Forget The Wall. Drop the media frenzy. These are diversions that may be masking something far more sinister and dangerous to America – takeovers by the multi-billion dollar drug cartels.
First, impeachment is a dumb idea. Trump is a liar? Oh, the only president to do so? Second, impeachment is another diversion with no real outcome. The Mueller Report? A non-starter, but it kept us diverted for two years. The Great Wall of Trump? If those billions are meant to stop drug smuggling, it’s misguided at best. a diversion at worst. Most illegal drugs, and dirty drug money, comes in hidden in trucks, cars and shipping containers through woefully understaffed, and sometimes corrupted, legal ports-of-entry. Some 150 million vehicles cross U.S.-Mexico border checkpoints yearly, and there are 20 million containers plying the seas.
The current humanitarian crisis at the border with Mexico won’t be solved with a wall. Refugees from violence sparked by U.S. interventionist policies in Central America over the years are mostly trying to seek asylum at the ports-of-entry. Those caravans are trying to keep their children from being burn-branded into drug gangs in deliberately destabilized countries where, since the CIA’s “guns for drugs” financing of the Nicaraguan contras and U.S.-spawned civil wars, drugs offer money and power in broken economies. We know how to fix the present crisis, with FEMA and Red Cross help and a commitment to expedite the asylum process. But the powers-that-be, with media help, prefer the diversion, to keep our eyes on the chaos, and not to look deeper.
Why the diversions? The illegal drug industry – heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, marijuana — in the United States is estimated to generate about $65 billion in profits a year, more than any Fortune 500 company. Opium paste, the base for heroin, comes hidden in shipping containers largely from Afghanistan, and opium poppies are now also being grown in Central America. Cocaine comes from South America’s coca plants, and fentanyl – mixed with heroin for an often-deadly high – comes from Communist China, along with the chemicals for meth production. Marijuana, on the road to legality, is grown everywhere, and Big Pharma — having addicted so many to opioids – sees profit in pot and is moving in.
All that activity generates a lot of dirty money. The Organization of American States estimates the world-wide drug trade at $320 billion a year, almost half of that in the Americas, mostly in North America. That’s about eight percent of world-wide trade. The drug cartels, which have grown increasingly sophisticated over the years, need ways to clean that dirty money, to make it legal and above suspicion. The OAS says the easiest money laundering methods are through cash-intensive businesses such as hotels, casinos, construction and real estate. Hotels, casinos, construction and real estate. Hmmm….
That, of course, requires collaboration by financial institutions, and the big bucks invites corruption on a large scale. Deutsche Bank’s U.S. unit, which has extended hundreds of millions in loans to President Trump’s real estate businesses, is estimated by Bloomberg News to have laundered over $200 billion in dirty money from Eastern Europe and from Latin American drug cartels between 2007 and 2015.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Deutsche Bank was joined by Bank of America and Citibank in laundering hundreds of millions for a single Colombian drug cartel, Oficina de Envigado, in 2010-2011. Wachovia Bank, a division of Wells Fargo, laundered over $378 billion in cartel cash before being caught and fined in 2010.
HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, was fined nearly $2 billion, a record, in 2012 after laundering Sinaloa and El Norte del Valle cartel millions. The Dutch Rabobank’s U.S. subsidiary forfeited $369 million in cartel cash. Western Union and J.P. Morgan Chase did their share. Most that are caught receive slap-on-the-wrist fines because of fears of upsetting the world’s economy, even though in some cases the money laundering was done not for the benefit of drug cartels, but for terrorist states and organizations.
With so much dirty money around, bribes and corruption are common, and politicians are hardly immune. There is, as far as I know, no smoking gun, no hard evidence of cartel corruption at the highest levels of U.S. government on either side of the aisle, but there is plenty to justify suspicion and questioning.
If the few investigative journalists still working would use their talents to dig deep, we might all benefit. But, since the cartels are well-known for brutal violence, maybe they are afraid for themselves and their families. Some 150,000 Mexicans have died in that country’s drug wars. And I get that. Still, it’s way past time to look deeper than the diversions, ask the questions, and to insist on answers. Before it’s too late.