Authorities made two extraordinary seizures tied to the drug trade this week, totaling a record half-billion dollars in money and dope. While Washington is focused on the war against terrorism, the narcotics trade is clearly booming. Check out these photos, courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Coast Guard:
On March 15, Mexican authorities raided a villa in one of Mexico City's poshest neighborhoods and found what they say is the largest drug cash seizure on record anywhere $205 million in cash, most of it in $100 bills. Total weight of all that cash: at least 4,500 pounds. "This is like law enforcement hitting the ultimate jackpot," said DEA top cop Karen Tandy. Also seized were 200,000 euros, 158,000 pesos, eight luxury vehicles, and a small arsenal. Officials say the money is tied to Chinese and Indian suppliers of raw materials for methamphetamine, which is brewed in Mexican superlabs and then exported to the United States.
Three days later, Coast Guard cutters operating off Panama acted on a tip about a shipment of cocaine bound for Mexico. What they found was the largest maritime drug seizure in history 42,845 pounds of coke, piled up on a barge like automobiles. On the street, all that dope is worth some $300 million, say DEA officials, who believe its final destination was the United States. You can find more photos here.
As Bad Guys reported February 13, U.S. counternarcotics analysts have found more than 10 billion "excess" U.S. dollars in Mexicomoney they believe is tied to the drug trade. Given recent seizures, though, that estimate may be low. Way low.