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Fed Wrist-slap for Wachovia Shows Drug War Farce

By       Message Linn Washington       (Page 2 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H1 5/27/11

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The amount of cocaine trafficking that sent the Illinois man to prison for life -- one and a half tons - was much smaller than that single 22 ton cocaine shipment referenced in the Wachovia settlement document.

The settlement agreement Wachovia officials signed with federal prosecutors in Miami last year clearly stated the bank knew that many of the transactions with Mexican financial institutions from 2004 to 2007 carried the stench of drugs.

That settlement agreement stated in part that as early as "2005 Wachovia was aware that other large US banks were exiting the [Mexican] business based on [anti-money laundering] concerns"despite these warnings, Wachovia remained in business" according to news media reports.

Wachovia reaped hefty fees from that money laundering "business' where billions in wire transfers, traveler's checks and bulk cash shipments went into Wachovia accounts from Mexican exchange facilities called casa de cambios (CDCs).

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Jeffery Solman, the federal prosecutor that handled the Wachovia case, stated last year that "Wachovia's blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations."

Last year Bloomberg News in an article on the Wachovia money laundering scandal reported how the federal government cited other mega-financial institutions in the U.S. like American Express Bank International and Bank of America for complicity in laundering drug money.

Evidencing Drug War farce, none of the mega-financial institutions identified by federal authorities as involved with laundering drug money and none of the well-paid individuals at those institutions facilitating that laundering faced go-to-jail federal criminal prosecutions like small fry in the drug trade.

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Days after Wachovia received it wrist-slap deal for laundering billions federal prosecutors secured a five-year sentence for a 26-year-old Johnstown, Pa. man involved with a drug ring claimed responsible for $10,000 in sells per month.

Imprisoning that Johnstown street dealer for five years will cost taxpayers $113,115 based on the average cost of $22,623 annually to house a federal prisoner. He was one of six netted during a drug crack down in that small town located in the mountains 66-miles east of Pittsburgh, Pa.

Alarming evidence of Drug War farce -- pounding small fry while giving passes to major players -- is evident in statistics from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the federal agency that advises Congress on criminal sentencing matters.

During 2009 in the Southern Florida where Miami is located 96.1 percent of the 669 persons convicted in federal courts for drug trafficking received prison time. Twenty-percent of the persons convicted in Southern Florida federal courts for simply possessing drugs received prison time.

Of the 67 persons convicted of money laundering during 2009 in those same Southern Florida courts 77.6% went to prison, according to U.S. Sentencing Commission statistics.

As noted in that April 2011 article in The Observer, the conclusion of the Wachovia case "was only the tip of an iceberg, demonstrating the role of the "legal" banking sector in swilling hundreds of billions of dollars -- the blood money from the murderous drug trade in Mexico and other places in the world -- around their global operations, now bailed out by the taxpayer."

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That Observer article included observations made in 2008 by the then head of the United Nations office on drugs and crime providing evidence suggesting that drug/crime money was "the only liquid investment capital" available to banks on the brink of collapse.

"Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drug trade," the Observer article quoted the U.N. official as stating. "There were signs that some banks were rescued that way."

That June 2010 Bloomberg News article provided an ominous observation about wrist-slap protection large banks receive from criminal indictments due to a variant of the too-big-to-fail theory:

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)
 

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