By Angela Vullo
Dec. 15, 2017–Recent articles in the major press only underscore what serious investigators have known for decades: the Wall Street dope-dealing cartels are waging a lethal assault on American citizens, with mass death as the ultimate result. This unified alliance, known as Dope, Inc.,* starts with top Wall Street-London Too-Big-to-Jail banks, such as Hong Shang Banking Corporation (HSBC), Bank of America, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, and others. They have worked in tandem with cartels such as Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa gang to inundate the nation with illegal drugs, hook our citizens, destroy our productive workforce, and commit mass murder in the process. This is the real monster behind the so-called opioid epidemic.
President Trump’s recent declaration of a Public Health Emergency, which acknowledging the urgency of the situation, falls far short of the needed actions to end this crisis. According to recent reports, deaths from drug overdose are now running at over 70,000 per year, and are far greater than the total deaths from the entire Vietnam War. In addition, the new Trump tax reform bill is designed to give massive tax benefits to the rich at the expense of the population. And, of course, Trump has reneged on his campaign call to restore Glass-Steagall.
What’s required is a two-pronged attack. On the one hand, as we have emphasized in recent articles, the U.S. population has to be “immunized” against the drug assault through the creation of a real economic recovery–directly attacking the despair and demoralization which creates their vulnerability to the drug cartels. On the other hand, the Federal government must carry out the banking reforms (Glass-Steagall) and law-enforcement measures that will destroy the drug trade at the top — starting with its financiers. This can only be accomplished by a return to the American System, and the intention of our country’s founders.
The evidence that has been laid on the table shows that the money-center banks are totally integrated with the drug trade, through money-laundering and protection. Drug money is their lifeblood, even as its perpetrators wage bloody war against the population. In this article we review some of the recent exposes, which have focused on the way the Mexican cartels, with the complicity of the Wall Street banks, have expanded their lethal heroin and fentanyl trade on the heels of the prescription opioid epidemic.
Follow the money
If you want to get to the source of the crime, as the saying goes, “follow the money.” Without re-reporting all that has been done to demonstrate the Wall Street-Drug cartel connections, we can get to the nub of the matter by beginning with the July 12, 2012 report of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. That report indicted HSBC for illegal drug money laundering, including for Los Zetas, a violent Mexican dope gang. The Senate report demanded criminal prosecution for HSBC and President Obama’s AG Eric Holder responded by tossing the report in the trash can.
HSBC is a sprawling organization. It is one of the largest banks in the world, headquartered in London. It has a network of over 7,200 offices in more than 80 countries 300,000 employees, and 2011 profits of nearly $22 billion. HBUS (HSBC USA) has more than 470 branches across the United States and 4 million customers.
In the judgment of the Senate investigators, all HSBC’s wrongdoing was too systemic to be a matter of mere negligence. As Senator Carl Levin, who headed the investigation, declared during the hearing, “This is something that people knew was going on at that bank.”
The New Yorker, in its July 2017 “Why Corrupt Bankers Avoid Jail”. backs up Levin’s statement:
According to the three-hundred-and-thirty-four-page report, the bank had laundered billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels, and violated sanctions by covertly doing business with pariah states. HSBC had helped a Saudi bank with links to Al Qaeda transfer money into the United States. Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, which is responsible for tens of thousands of murders, deposited so much drug money in the bank that the cartel designed special cash boxes to fit HSBC’s teller windows. On a law-enforcement wiretap, one drug lord extolled the bank as “the place to launder money. (emph. added)
In summarizing the results of the Senate Subcommittee investigations, the New Yorker wrote:
In the age of international terrorism, drug violence in our streets and on our borders, and organized crime, stopping illicit money flows that support those atrocities is a national security imperative, said Senator Carl Levin. … HSBC used its U.S. bank as a gateway into the U.S. financial system for some HSBC affiliates around the world to provide U.S. dollar services to clients while playing fast and loose with U.S. banking rules. HBUS exposed the United States to Mexican drug money, suspicious travelers cheques, bearer share corporations and rogue jurisdictions.
Half a dozen HSBC executives were summoned to Capitol Hill for a ritual display of chastisement. After several bankers feigned remorse, and apologized or promised to resign, Lanny Breuer, a senior official at the Department of Justice, promised that HSBC would be “held accountable.”
What Breuer delivered, however, was the sort of velvet accountability to which large banks have grown accustomed: no criminal charges were filed, and no executives or employees were prosecuted for trafficking in dirty money. Instead, HSBC pledged to clean up its institutional culture, submit to “monitoring,” and pay a fine of nearly two billion dollars: a penalty that sounded hefty but was only the equivalent of four weeks’ profit for the bank.
Nor is it only HSBC that has been caught in the drug-money-laundering business. Congressional investigations in the 1990s, and as late as 2015, have identified the Mexican branch of Citibank as having laundered money for the major drug cartels as well.
The Sinaloa Cartel : Steering the Flow of Mexican Heroin into the U.S.
Numerous sources have documented that heroin availability in the United States is the reason that overdose deaths related to drugs has skyrocketed over the past several years. On November 19, 2017, the Business Insider reported, “Eleven of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 21 field divisions in the US rated it as the number-one drug threat in 2016. And while the DEA says heroin from Mexico, South America, Southwest Asia, and Southeast Asia is all available in the US, the agency’s testing and research indicate that the our southern neighbor is the dominant source.”
“Mexico and, to a lesser extent, Colombia, dominate the US heroin market because of their proximity, established transportation and distribution infrastructure, and ability to satisfy heroin demand in the United States,” the DEA notes in its 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment.
“Mexican cartels’ shift to producing heroin- as well as synthetic drugs like fentanyl – has been driven in part by loosening marijuana laws in the US, and the Sinaloa cartel appears to be the main player in a lucrative market.”
Despite the arrest of Sinaloa leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, in Mexico in January 2016, Business Insider reported, “The business didn’t decrease with the extradition of” Guzman, a cartel operator, who described himself as a mid-level member, told Rio Doce . “We keep sending chiva [heroin], perico [cocaine], cristal [methamphetamine]. The only one that decreased was mota [marijuana], but from there on out everything continues like before,” he said.
“The Sinaloa cartel dominates much of Mexico’s Pacific coast, which includes main opium-cultivation areas in Guerrero and Sinaloa, which is part of country’s Golden Triangle. (The Jalisco New Generation Cartel is also active in that area.)”
The cartels found a ready-made U.S. market with opioid abuse
Beginning in the 1970s, with the orchestrated adoption of the “no pain” culture, opioids began to flourish in the United States. This opened the door to cheap heroin, which seamlessly moved into a pre-existing, manufactured market.
“The cartels are very attuned to shifts in drug abuse in the United States. They always have been,” the Business Insider reports from their source, Vigil. “And as a result of that there’s been a shift to the cultivation of opium poppies.”
“Mexican cartels often have improvised labs – “I call them ‘kitchen labs,’ because they use nothing more than pots and pans that you would find in any kitchen,” Vigil said – located near growing areas.
“A heroin “cook” in northern Sinaloa state told Rio Doce production had increased dramatically. … Before I cooked some 40 kilos a year,” he said. “But now I’m cooking like some 30 kilos a month,” making both black-tar and white-powder heroin, a sign Mexican producers are drawing on Columbian methods.”
While the spread of heroin and opioid abuse in the US has had devastating consequences for many communities, for the traffickers, it is simply a matter of business.
Americans “buy [drugs], we sell,” the Sinaloa operative told Rio Doce. “We don’t force any gringo who consumes heroin or marijuana,” he added. “They do it because they want to, and if one doesn’t sell it to them, somebody else is going to do it.” Mexico’s cartels, Vigil said, are “very much like any corporation. They judge the market demand, and they shift accordingly, and I would have to say the cartels shift much more efficiently and quickly than any major corporation, because they don’t have to deal the bureaucracy.”
Mexican Roots of the Current Drug Trade, the “pizza delivery system”
In his groundbreaking book, Dreamland, author Sam Quinones details the Mexican roots of the U.S. drug epidemic and how it has been expanded and been taken over by the Sinaloa Cartel.
In his review of Quinones’ book, George Canning detailed this new configuration and expansion, “The heroin trade, which was, in the 1960’s, centered in Turkey and Southeast Asia. After the ebb of heroin’s popularity in the U.S. in the 1970s, the heroin trade had focused on addicts with big habits, generally in major urban centers. In the 1980s, the Mexicans began sending black tar heroin north, which began to supplant other varieties in the established urban markets.”
Canning conveys Quinones’ description of the move into the United States.
New heroin markets were developed in small American cities and towns. Beginning in the San Fernando Valley northwest of Los Angeles, migrants from the town of Xalisco in the tiny Mexican state of Nayarit started selling black tar heroin, using “cell” organizations owned and overseen, back in Nayarit. Perhaps uniquely, the Nayarit cells produced, transported, and sold the heroin, owning it “from flower to arm.” In the late 1980s, the “Xalisco Boys” ceased selling heroin on street corners, and developed a system in which addicts would phone in small orders to a cell’s call center, and the heroin would be delivered to them by the cell’s young Mexican drivers. Many of Quinones’s law enforcement sources analogized this system to the pizza-delivery business.
As the Xalisco system flourished, more Nayarit cells flooded the sales area, to share in the bonanza. By the mid-1990s, Nayarit cells were reported to be operating in a dozen major metropolitan areas in the western United States. But as the markets in western-U.S. cities became saturated, the Xalisco Boys began, in the late 1990s, to move east, spearheaded by American-born junkie-traffickers, who could obtain sales leads from their addict-customers. During his campaign spreading black tar heroin east of the Mississippi, a Quinones source known as “The Man” discovered the legal pain-killer market on a trip to West Virginia. Unknowingly, Quinones says, The Man had stumbled on the explosion of opiate addiction in central Ohio–the biggest metro area in a five-state region where, two years into the Purdue Pharma promotional campaign, opiate addiction was exploding due to abuse of OxyContin. The evolution of the “Nayarit system” – the switch from street sales to the “pizza delivery” system, improving “customer service,” and finally branching out all over the United States is part of the game.”
Heroin no longer doing the job; enter Fentanyl
According to a Nov. 13 Washington Post article, Mexican traffickers are now making New York a hub for lucrative – and deadly – fentanyl. They report that narcotics agents who raided an apartment building in a quiet residential section of Queens, found several suitcases loaded with brick-shaped bundles of what appeared to be heroin. But lab test determined that most of it – 141 pounds – was pure fentanyl, a synthetic and supremely dangerous opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin.
It was the largest fentanyl seizure in U.S. history. There was enough inside the apartment to kill 32 million people, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
This year, narcotics agents have seized more than 350 pounds of pure fentanyl in New York City, 10 times as much as they did in 2016. A calculated business decision appears to be behind the boom.
“The cartels realize that fentanyl is much more profitable than heroin,” said James Hunt, head of the DEA’s New York Division.
“These guys are evil businessmen, but they are still businessmen,” Hunt said. “I don’t know of any product where you could invest $3,000 and make millions.” Financial derivatives, anyone?
According to DEA intelligence gleaned from wiretaps, about 80 percent of the fentanyl seized in the New York are appears to be linked to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel.
The Sinaloa group does not bother with retail-level commerce, according to the DEA. It uses New York to deliver large wholesale shipments to middlemen, typically local Dominican traffickers. Those groups distribute to markets in New England, Pennsylvania, Baltimore and other places where the opioid is raging.
“Fentanyl is the number one killer drug in America,” AG Jeff Sessions said. “And as deadly as it is, you can go online and order it through the mail.”
But Mexican traffickers are sending fentanyl through the U.S. Interstate highway system, not the postal service, and in quantities that dwarf the amounts arriving in envelopes.
It’s not personal–it’s business
Like the couple in Queens, traffickers appear to be avoiding high-crime neighborhoods where they might be at greater risk of being robbed or detected. DEA agents in August found 20 pounds of fentanyl and heroin at a $4,000-a-month apartment overlooking Central Park. The drug dealers and the bankers are now sharing the same high end New York apartment complexes.
Inside the luxurious New York apartments, The Washington Post further reports, “a Dominican drug gang was blending fentanyl and heroin in coffee grinders and stamping the drug packages with labels such as “Pray for Death”, “Uber” and “Gilligan’s Island”.
Two years ago, any one of these seizures would have been huge,” Bridget Brennan, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor, said in an interview. “But we’ve never seen volumes like what we’re seeing now “she said. “Not even close.”
The Mexican traffickers flooding the city with fentanyl and other drugs are different from the 1980’s when homicides soared. They largely eschew violence, and they don’t carry guns. They are the sales team – not the enforcement division – of Fentanyl, Inc.
“They’re smart,” said Jimmy Arroyo, a DEA special agent who leads the team that in recent months has made several large busts liked to the Mexican traffickers. “They know that if they kill people, they will attract attention.”
Although the opioid boom hasn’t led to an increase in violence in New York, it has produced a staggering number of quiet deaths. The city had nearly 1,400 fatal overdoses last year, a 46 percent increase from 2015. Fentanyl showed up in 44 percent of autopsies.
Fentanyl is so accessible and effective in killing, it is being proposed by two states as the choice drug for death row executions.
“The reason we keep looking for something else,” said, law professor from Fordham University Deborah Denno, is that “we don’t want executions to look like what they really are: killing someone.”
Toxic Assets, Deadly Drugs
As the drug crisis exploded in the late 1990s, Wall Street investment bankers were upping their game. With the repeal of Glass Steagall, they were given free rein to loot the country. Packaging new financial instruments, (MBS) mortgage backed securities, (CDOS) Collateralized Debt Obligations, and more, were the order of the day, to make their trades more lucrative. But, the whole thing backfired. It was not just the bad mortgage loans, but the new-fangled financial instruments that eventually brought on the 2008 crash.
As a result of the crash, 10 million Americans lost their homes, 3 million people lost their jobs, and $10.2 trillion of overall wealth was lost in the nation.
But rather than changing the system, the Obama and Trump administrations have allowed it to regrow with an ever-increasing supply of toxic assets, including drug money. On December 8, President Trump touted, “We have a stock market that has hit record highs 81 times since our election victory. It’s a new high right now.” Warren Buffett claims that the Dow will hit 1 million in 100 years.
The high caused by the fake euphoria in the markets is paralleled only by the increasing demand for stronger drugs. And the Wall Street banks’ increasing demand for drug money, one could add.
The Deal is Sealed
This collusion between the drug cartels and money-center banks like HSBC and Citi couldn’t be clearer. They need each other. The banks are addicted to drug money, and they are dependent on the cold cash infusions to augment their equities in the bank. And, these deals are protected by the government. The banks are being cleared of wrongdoing for their drug operations, by the U.S. Department of Justice acting as the hired legal protection arm for the Wall Street bankers.
For example: On July 12, 2017, proven drug-money launderer HSBC won a major victory when a New York federal appeals court reversed a lower court’s decision to release a potentially damaging report detailing the bank’s money-laundering practices. That report was one produced by the monitors the Justice Department had insisted upon in 2012, as part of its deferred prosecution agreement with HSBC for its money laundering for Mexican drug cartels. When an individual sued HSBC over what he alleged was an illegal foreclosure, and sought that report to bolster his case, the Justice Department resisted.
Wall Street on Parade confirmed this analysis in a December 11 article.
After Wall Street’s corrupt practices collapsed the U.S. economy and financial system in 2008, causing the greatest downturn since the Great Depression, one would have expected Congress to have cracked down on the crime spree. No serious attempt at prosecuting Wall Street for the frauds that led to the financial collapse was even made. According to the PBS program Frontline, there was not even a pretense of investigating the executives: There were no investigations going on. There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps.’
But, the die is not yet cast
Since the 1960s, America has lost its way. Like thieves in the night, powerful financial institutions, with their criminal sidekicks robbed our country of its future. And, out of sheer terror, the American people bought into an economy and culture that eventually would lead to their own demise.
The red lights are now flashing: the horror of the deluge of drug deaths is shocking the nation, as warnings of another stock market crash looms large.
This crisis is by no means an accident. It was done with the present intended consequences.
Who will be held accountable?
The case has been made, but the jury is still out. The verdict, and the corrective measures, lie in the hands of the American people.
*Dope, Inc. was the title of the definitive book on the British Empire’s funding of the drug trade. First published in 1978, an updated edition of this EIR classic is currently available on Amazon.
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Tags: Angela Vullo, Dope, drug cartel, drug money-laundering, heroin, HSBC, opioid, Quinones, Wall Street