U.S. and Mexico Duel Over Money Laundering Case

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Wednesday, July 1, 1998
Bruce Zagaris
On May 18, 1998, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles charged three Mexican banks and twenty-six Mexican bankers with laundering millions of dollars in drug profits. According to an announcement by Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Attorney General Janet Reno, the charges are the first time Mexican banks and bank officials were directly linked to laundering U.S. drug proceeds for the Cali cartel of Colombia and the Juarez cartel of Mexico. The indictment represented the culmination of “Operation Casablanca,” a three-year undercover sting operation led by the U.S. Customs Service that resulted in the arrests of twenty-two bankers from twelve of Mexico’s nineteen largest banking institutions. This article outlines some of the highlights of the investigation, the indictment, responses by the Mexican Government, and its consequences for U.S.-Mexican law enforcement cooperation... [more]