Mexico News and Analysis: August 9-22, 2010

1.$20 BILLION IN LAUNDERED MONEY
2.ATTACK IN SAN JUAN COPOLA LEAVES FOUR DEAD
3.WOMEN IN JAIL FOR ABORTIONS
4.ESPINO EXPELLED FROM PAN
5.COFETEL AWARDS TELEVISA BANDWIDTH

1.$20 BILLION IN LAUNDERED MONEY
Narco-traffickers launder US$20 billion annually between the US and Mexico but officials decommission only 3.5%, less than the cost of some ATM transactions, according to DEA and ICE officials.  And this is only part of the total income from illegal drugs since much of the money is sent directly to Central and South America to pay for drugs and shipments, or remains in the US to pay for distribution.  Total drug income likely exceeds US$40 billion annually.  

Earlier this year, Wells Fargo paid a US$160 million fine for money laundering associated with Wachovia Bank, which it acquired in 2008.  Cartels used some of the illicit funds laundered through Wachovia to purchase airplanes that were subsequently used to transport narcotics.  While much of the illicit money is transported in trucks or luggage across the border, some is laundered directly through international banks in sums of less than $10,000 to avoid the scrutiny of regulators.  Apparently unconcerned, Wells Fargo nearly doubled the number of locations in Mexico where customers can pick up remittances, adding about 4,000 new sites this year.  Remittances in the second quarter totaled US$5.8 billion, a 4% increase from last year.  Migrant workers also use remittance networks to send money to family members, so it is difficult to separate legal from illegal operations.

Banks aren’t the only US businesses profiting from international narcotics cartels.  More than 7,000 gun shops have sprouted on the US side of the border, where gun laws are much more lax than in Mexico.  Three-quarters of the 84,000 weapons seized by Mexican officials since 2006 originated in the US.

2.ATTACK IN SAN JUAN COPALA LEAVES FOUR DEAD
An attack on Saturday, August 21, by paramilitaries associated with the PRI left four indigenous residents of San Juan Copala dead and one wounded.  The attack is part of a long-running dispute between the Movement for Triqui Struggle and Unification (MULT), a paramilitary group aligned with local PRI leaders, and MULT-Independent, an autonomous group struggling to establish an independent community government.  Antonio Martinez, leader of the MULT-I movement in Santa Cruz Tilapa, was among the dead.  On April 27, MULT members attacked a human rights caravan trying to reach San Juan Copala, killing Beatriz Carino, a well-known Mexican human rights activist, and Jyri Jaakkola, an observer from Finland.  Federal and State authorities refuse to investigate the murders and to date no one has been arrested.

3.WOMEN IN JAIL FOR ABORTIONS
The Organization of American States called on the federal government and authorities in Guanajuato to release six campesino women sentenced to 25 year prison terms for “homicide” after having abortions.  While Mexico City recently legalized abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy, authorities in Guanajuato, center of Mexico’s most conservative Catholic Church, are playing politics with the lives of six poor campesinas.  Maria Camargo, Ofelia Segura, Yolanda Martinez, Liliana Morales, Ana Padron and Susana Duenas remain in prison

4.ESPINO EXPELLED FROM PAN
The Central Committee of the National Action Party (PAN) expelled Manuel Espino, former president of the party, for public criticism of President Felipe Calderon.  Espino has been involved in a long-running ideological battle with Calderon, with Espino representing the Catholic ultra-right of the right wing PAN.  The Central Committee initiated expulsion procedures at a long-anticipated meeting on August 18.  Espino opposed the PAN’s recent electoral alliances with the rival PRD and has criticized Calderon in public forums, perhaps in anticipation of running for president himself in 2012.

5.COFETEL AWARDS TELEVISA BANDWIDTH
The Federal Telecommunication Commission (Cofetel) awarded a Televisa-Nextel partnership the 30 mgz bandwidth for mobile telephones at the bargain basement price of US$15 million.  The deal allows Televisa, already the major media powerhouse in Mexico, to enter the lucrative “triple play” market, offering telephone, internet and cable service.  Telcel and Telefonica also won bandwidth extensions, paying US$3.2 billion and US$1 billion for the rights.  Cofetel was widely criticized for rigging the bidding in favor of the powerful Televisa at the expense of the national patrimony.