A former DEA agent revealed how the alliance between Mexican drug traffickers and Chinese intermediaries operates

FILE PHOTO: Packages of fentanyl mostly in powder form and methamphetamine, which US Customs and Border Protection says they seized from a truck crossing into Arizona from Mexico, are shown during a news conference at the Port of Nogales , Arizona, United States, January 31, 2019. Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Handout via REUTERS (HANDOUT/)

A former agent of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) exposed this Wednesday in the US Congress the alliance between the drug cartels and Chinese intermediaries, who help them launder the money obtained illegally from the sale of drugs.

The appearance of Christopher Urben before the Surveillance and Accountability Committee of the US Lower House served to highlight the role played by Chinese criminal organizations in the enrichment of the Mexican cartels.

“The current Chinese model of money laundering involves participants from at least three countries: the United States, China and Mexico,” said Urben, a former deputy special agent at the head of the DEA’s Special Operations Division.

According to his testimony, these Chinese intermediaries, “money brokers” who are in the United States, collect the Proceeds from sales of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. They receive those cash proceeds from a drug distribution gang that owes that money to the Mexican cartel.

The Chinese intermediary then makes the US dollars available to Chinese customers who want to spend money in the United States, either by purchasing real estate, paying college tuition or other types of investments.

The Chinese customer pays in China for the cash received in the United States, and that income in China is used to buy goods that will be exported to Mexico or South America, where they will be sold by Chinese intermediaries in Mexico to recover their funds.

FILE PHOTO.  Plastic bags of fentanyl sit on a table at the US Customs and Border Protection International Mail Facility at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, USA.  November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
FILE PHOTO. Plastic bags of fentanyl sit on a table at the US Customs and Border Protection International Mail Facility at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, USA. November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Lott (JOSHUA LOTT/)

All this gear, in which different commissions mediate, is possible according to Urben thanks to encrypted electronic communications that allow transactions at the moment.

The former member of the DEA, who spent more than two decades in that agency, pointed out that this system is difficult to detect because it “minimizes the movement of funds: dollars do not leave the United States, pesos from Mexico and renminbis from China ”.

In addition, it takes advantage of huge volume of trade with China to guarantee a “constant” flow of customers that makes it difficult to differentiate legitimate transactions from illegitimate ones, and uses technology to its advantage, with encrypted networks resistant to US surveillance.

“While the threat posed by Chinese organized crime is real and growing, much more can be done to combat it. More investigative resources, such as translators and data experts, will allow law enforcement to have the necessary tools to detect and investigate these networks where they operate,” Urben said.

Congress, he added, can also play a “vital” role by providing the means, incentives, and power to the government and the private sector to work together on the matter.

Republican lawmaker Lisa McClain, a House committee member, admitted that Chinese money laundering organizations have developed an “incredibly efficient scheme that is increasingly difficult for law enforcement to adapt to”.

“They have an almost infallible system in place that does not require placing illicit funds in the United States banking system,” added the congresswoman, for whom the trafficking of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, is one of the main threats facing the country. , if not the greatest.

(With information from EFE)

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