Banks Launder Billions in Illegal Cartel Money While Snubbing Legal Marijuana Businesses

In the past few weeks, violence in the western Mexican state of Michoacán has been rapidly escalating. The government’s inability to deal with the powerful cartels has led to citizens taking the law into their own hands – by forming armed vigilante groups. The bloodshed caused by this development has now led to the deployment of Mexican soldiers into the region, which in turn has caused further civilian deaths.

The failure of both the vigilantes and the army to quell the cartel’s carnage is a direct result of the huge profits that the drug trade generates. Cartel leaders can continue hiring and arming their combatants because it’s worth the expenditure; the illegal drug trade accounts for around eight percent of all international trade. One of the primary reasons that cartels retain their enormous power is that well-known and popular banks are supporting their finances.

Bank of America, Western Union, and JP Morgan, are among the institutions allegedly involved in the drug trade. Meanwhile, HSBC has admitted its laundering role, and evaded criminal prosecution by paying a fine of almost $2 billion. The lack of imprisonment of any bankers involved is indicative of the hypocritical nature of the drug war; an individual selling a few grams of drugs can face decades in prison, while a group of people that tacitly allow – and profit from – the trade of tons, escape incarceration.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.