Mexico and the United States face a very serious common threat from the organized crime groups which operate in both countries trafficking in drugs, arms, illicit funds, and people. The two governments should redouble efforts to counter these threats to the well-being of citizens in both countries through addiction, violence and corruption. The United States and Mexico have improved cooperation in fighting criminal groups and drugs smuggling since the creation of the Merida Initiative in 2008. However, this work has not been enough to reduce trafficking of drugs and organized crime-related violence in Mexico. Deaths related to drug overdoses, especially from opioids, have soared in the U.S. Mexican opium and heroin production is up fueling addiction in the U.S., and violent homicides are back to record levels in Mexico. Human smuggling also remains a challenge. More can be achieved with better security cooperation, higher levels of trust, commitment and investment by the two governments, and collaboration with regional partners — especially Central America and Colombia. Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne explored these issues at the 19th International Seminar on Anti-money Laundering and Counter-terrorism Finance in Mexico City on October 5, 2017.
During his presentation to Asociación de Bancos de México, Ambassador Wayne underscored that organized crime groups make an estimated $18 to $30 billion dollars a year selling drugs to the United States. That money fuels corruption and buys U.S. weapons for criminals to use in Mexico as well as feeding further addiction in United States. Banks have a vital role in identifying and blocking these and other illicit financial transactions by applying smarter risk management, better “know your customer” practices, following AML regulations, and closely cooperating with authorities to help uncover and dismantle the financial networks through which illicit finances flow.