Magazine article Insight on the News

One Bust Doesn't Win a War

Magazine article Insight on the News

One Bust Doesn't Win a War

Article excerpt

"Today we have hit the drug cartels where it hurts most -- in their pocketbooks," Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said during his May 18 joint press conference with Attorney General Janet Reno.

Both officials were clearly cockahoop with the success of Operation Casablanca -- a three-year long operation that netted the government $35 million and secured the indictments of officials from 12 of Mexico's 19 largest banks. There were also indictments of some members of Mexico's Juarez and Columbia's Cali cartels.

Certainly it was a good operation, though amid all the self-congratulations it is worth noting that $35 million represents a mere couple of days of Juarez cartel drug profits. On the broader front, the administration's efforts to curb money-laundering seem adrift, its international narcotics control strategy report doing much to give that impression.

For roughly the last six years, the money-laundering section has hardly changed -- from goals laid out by the administration to prevent narco-traffickers from moving their ill-gotten profits around the global-financial system to the language used.

Key parts of the 1998 report contain sentences lifted from last year's offering, such as the acknowledgment that actions "are needed to keep pace with the dynamics of money-laundering in a high-tech world. …

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