U.S agents HELPED Colombian drug lord 'The Rabbit' to launder millions of dollars
U.S drug enforcement agents secretly helped a Colombian cocaine supplier launder millions of dollars in drug proceeds so they could infiltrate cartels working through the Mexico border, it has been revealed.
An extradition order by the Mexico Foreign Ministry against Harold Mauricio Poveda-Ortega - known as 'The Rabbit' - revealed U.S. narcotics agents, Mexican law enforcement and an informant worked together for months in 2007.
They carried out wire transfers for tens of thousands of dollars, smuggled millions in bulk cash and even escorted a shipment of cocaine through Ecuador, Dallas and finally Madrid.
The order, revealed by Mexican magazine emeequis and The New York Times, includes testimony from a DEA agent who oversaw the investigation against 'The Rabbit'.
He is charged with smuggling 150 tons of cocaine to Mexico between 2000 and 2010 - much of it destined for the U.S.
Morris Panner, a former assistant U.S. attorney, told The New York Times: 'The same rules required domestically do not apply when agencies are operating overseas.
'So the agencies can be forced to make up the rules as they go along.
'It's a slippery slope. If it's not careful, the U.S. could end up helping the bad guys more than hurting them.'
In a written statement, the DEA defended its actions. It said: 'Transnational organised groups can be defeated only by transnational law enforcement cooperation.
'Such cooperation requires that law enforcement agencies - often from multiple countries - coordinate their activities, while at the same time always acting within their respective laws and authorities.'
Poveda-Ortega was considered the main supplier for Mexican cartel leader Arturo Beltran Leyva. In 2007, agents infiltrated the Colombian's operations and two years later Mexican security forces killed Beltran Leyva in a gun battle near Mexico City.
The Colombian himself escaped a raid in 2008 on his home, but was captured three years later in the capital.
Testimony by agents involved in the operation reveal they began a series of low-level money-laundering jobs to gain trust within Poveda-Ortega's associates.
Oher agents posed as pilots or told drug traffickers methods of laundering cash from their operations.
Due to the dangerous nature of the operation, it can take months to earn the trust of drug traffickers and the names of the agents involved have not been revealed.
By Wil Longbottom
Last updated at 2:28 PM on 9th January 2012
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