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Mexican Drug Cartel Laundered Money Through BofA, FBI Alleges

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Jose Trevino Morales, left, leads racehorse Mr Polito after his victory at the 2010 All American Futurity race. Morales is accused of helping launder money from the Los Zetas drug cartel through accounts at Bank of America.
Jose Trevino Morales, left, leads racehorse Mr Polito after his victory at the 2010 All American Futurity race. Morales is accused of helping launder money from the Los Zetas drug cartel through accounts at Bank of America.

Drug money has a way of sprawling. And some of it may have reached Bank of America.

A federal probe into Los Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel, claims that the group has been laundering money through accounts at BofA, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal.

An FBI affidavit filed in Texas last month says that the Mexican drug cartel has been reportedly funneling cash through a Texas-based racehorse business with BofA accounts. The U.S. government has described Los Zetas in the past as "the most technologically advanced, sophisticated and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico." Tremor Enterprises LLC, the horse business, was for its part allegedly run by Jose Trevino Morales, a U.S. citizen with two brothers in Los Zetas.

In the past, Mexican drug syndicates have allegedly used BofA accounts to buy planes to transport cocaine, according to Bloomberg. Between 2004 and 2007, the bank was also the alleged destination for almost $10 million in illicit funds from an influential political family in Equatorial Guinea.

BofA has admitted such errors in the past. In 2006, officials acknowledged they'd failed to catch South American clients laundering $3 billion through one of its Manhattan branches, according to The New York Times.

Just to be clear, BofA hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing, and according to sources cited by the WSJ, the bank is cooperating with the FBI investigation.

Still, if Los Zetas has indeed been shifting a million dollars a month through accounts held at BofA, as the federal probe claims, it suggests the bank might still have some kinks to work out in its defenses against money laundering.

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