In order to fight Mexico’s criminal drug cartels, Drug Enforcement Administration officials are themselves becoming criminals.
Millions of dollars of drug proceeds have been laundered or smuggled by undercover American narcotics agents in an attempt to gain information on the tactics of the cartels. The D.E.A has shipped illegal cash across borders to find out how gangs move their cash and who their leadership is.
The illicit activity – specifically sanctioned as Attorney General Exempt Operations – may violate Mexican sovereignty, facilitate additional criminal activity on the part of the drug cartels, and may be lamentably counterproductive, especially in the shadow of the failed gun-running operation Fast and Furious.
One anonymous former agency official told the New York Times of his experience with such operations: “My rule was that if we are going to launder money, we better show results. Otherwise, the D.E.A. could wind up being the largest money launderer in the business, and that money results in violence and deaths.”