Drugs and Money: Laundering Latin America's Cocaine Dollars

By Robert E. Grosse | Go to book overview

Chapter 12

The Raul Salinas Saga, 1992–94

This chapter describes the strange case of Raul Salinas, the first brother of the president of Mexico, Carlos Salinas (whose term of office was from 1988–94). The story is incomplete because the full details of his activities are not yet confirmed. Even so, based on his own legal testimony and on additional evidence that has been compiled, it is reasonably clear that Raul Salinas moved more than $U.S. 120 million out of Mexico during 1992–94. It also is clear that he did so in a range of disguised methods to hide his ownership of the money.

At the same time Salinas was converting pesos into dollars and transferring them out of Mexico, it was also clear that Mexican drug lords were earning large sums of money in dollars, which they wanted to convert into pesos. The drug traffickers also were looking for protection against law enforcement, so they would be potential contributors to Salinas in their attempts to defuse or derail prosecution. It has come out during the legal proceedings against Salinas that he did indeed receive funds that turned out to be proceeds of narcotics trafficking, specifically from the so-called “Gulf Cartel,” headed by Juan Garcia Abrego. According to prosecution statements in the Swiss case to forfeit Raul Salinas’ money there, the funds were proceeds of narcotrafficking that originated with the cartel headed by Pablo Escobar in Colombia.

The case developed as follows. Raul Salinas, older brother of Mexico’s exPresident Carlos Salinas, was imprisoned in Mexico in 1996 on charges of murder and “inexplicable enrichment.” He was found to have amassed more than $U.S. 200 million of funds in accounts held in Switzerland and London, though his personal income and previous wealth would never have produced such an incredible amount. This story, which has not been concluded, follows the known and speculated path of the drugs and money that contributed to Salinas’ unexplained bank accounts.

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