I ask that question because of this report in the New York Times yesterday.
Undercover American narcotics agents have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds as part of Washington’s expanding role in Mexico’s fight against drug cartels, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials.
The agents, primarily with the Drug Enforcement Administration, have handled shipments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal cash across borders, those officials said, to identify how criminal organizations move their money, where they keep their assets and, most important, who their leaders are.
They said agents had deposited the drug proceeds in accounts designated by traffickers, or in shell accounts set up by agents.
The officials said that while the D.E.A. conducted such operations in other countries, it began doing so in Mexico only in the past few years. The high-risk activities raise delicate questions about the agency’s effectiveness in bringing down drug kingpins, underscore diplomatic concerns about Mexican sovereignty, and blur the line between surveillance and facilitating crime. As it launders drug money, the agency often allows cartels to continue their operations over months or even years before making seizures or arrests.
. . .
Those are precisely the kinds of concerns members of Congress have raised about a gun-smuggling operation known as Fast and Furious, in which agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed people suspected of being low-level smugglers to buy and transport guns across the border in the hope that they would lead to higher-level operatives working for Mexican cartels. After the agency lost track of hundreds of weapons, some later turned up in Mexico; two were found on the United States side of the border where an American Border Patrol agent had been shot to death.
Former D.E.A. officials rejected comparisons between letting guns and money walk away. Money, they said, poses far less of a threat to public safety. And unlike guns, it can lead more directly to the top ranks of criminal organizations.
. . .
It is not clear whether such operations are worth the risks. So far there are few signs that following the money has disrupted the cartels’ operations, and little evidence that Mexican drug traffickers are feeling any serious financial pain. Last year, the D.E.A. seized about $1 billion in cash and drug assets, while Mexico seized an estimated $26 million in money laundering investigations, a tiny fraction of the estimated $18 billion to $39 billion in drug money that flows between the countries each year.
There’s more at the link. It’s very disturbing material, but I highly recommend reading it in full, to see just how far law enforcement agencies can go when they lack a moral or ethical framework to restrain them.
I’ve written about the ATF‘s ‘Operation Fast And Furious‘ on numerous occasions in these pages. It seems that, not content with that agency allowing literally thousands of illegally-acquired weapons to cross the border, arm Mexican drug cartels, and threaten the lives of US citizens and law enforcement agents, the Department of Justice is now allowing the DEA, another of its agencies, to provide the cartels with enough money to buy thousands more guns, as well as hire and train the criminals they need to operate them!
Has the entire US Department of Justice now become nothing more than an avid, enthusiastic and influential enabler of Mexican drug cartels? It certainly looks like it. I’m (medically) retired from the Department of Justice myself (as a chaplain with another of its agencies): and even though I never had any inkling of such operations or contact with them, I’m beginning to feel morally soiled and tainted by association!
It’s long gone time for the heads to roll of all those responsible for this mess – starting with the Attorney General, and working down from there! I believe they should not only be summarily dismissed, but those most responsible for the tragic results of these operations, whether by acts of commission or omission, should face criminal charges as well.