Bloomberg News

Issa Plans Probe Into Report U.S. Helps Drug Cartel Laundering

December 07, 2011

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- A House Republican said he will investigate whether U.S. government agents are helping Mexican drug cartels launder money to learn about their financial operations.

The probe was prompted by a New York Times report yesterday that Drug Enforcement Administration undercover agents are carrying out the operations. Representative Darrell Issa of California, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter today to Attorney General Eric Holder announcing the probe. Holder is due to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 8 about Justice Department activities.

Holder last month told the Senate Judiciary Committee that a law-enforcement program that allowed illegal gun purchases in the U.S. in an attempt to link the weapons to drug cartels was “flawed.”

Two of about 2,000 guns that U.S. agents allowed to be carried away as part of the operation, named Fast and Furious, were found at the scene of the December 2010 murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in Arizona, according to a congressional report released in June.

The drug money laundering allegations “raise further unsettling questions about a Department of Justice component engaging in a high-risk strategy with scant evidence of success,” Issa said.

The U.S. has laundered money in Mexico for the last few years, according to the New York Times. Agents have deposited money from drug deals in accounts for traffickers or in shell accounts agents set up, the paper said.

Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return phone messages seeking comment.

--Editors: Jim Rubin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Bliss in Washington at jbliss@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva in Washington at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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