Mexican Drug Cartel Diversifies…to Coal

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Grieving family members after a coal mine explosion in Coahuila (photo-AP)

Drug lords in Mexico have discovered a legal way to make money, albeit while still keeping their hands dirty: coal.


The Zetas drug cartel is now selling millions of dollars worth of coal each year in northern Mexico, across the border from Texas. This relatively legitimate business allows the cartel to launder money gained from drug trafficking.


In Coahuila state, which produces 95% of Mexico’s coal, the cartel produces or buys 10,000 tons of coal a week and sells it to the Mexican government at inflated prices, earning $22 million to $25 million annually.


“The Zetas are the first Mexican cartel to diversify from drugs into other areas,” Tomas Borges, author of a book on the cartels, told Agence France-Presse. Raul Vera, bishop of Coahuila's capital Saltillo, says that the Zetas have been mining coal illegally for years.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Mexican Druglords Strike Gold in Coal (by Pierre-Marc Rene, Agence France-Presse)

Drug Cartel Used BofA Account to Invest in U.S. Racehorses (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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