WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- American undercover agents say they've laundered millions of dollars in drug money in cooperation with Mexico in a fight against drug cartels.
The agents, mostly from the Drug Enforcement Administration, also smuggled money across borders in order to identify how cartels move their money, where they keep said funds and who their leaders are, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Critics of the activities, which some compare to the gun-smuggling program "Fast and Furious," question the wisdom of allowing the cartels to operate for months, even years, while agents launder millions.
"My rule was that if we are going to launder money, we better show results. Otherwise, the DEA could wind up being the largest money launderer in the business, and that money results in violence and deaths," one agent, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Times.
Despite Mexican President Felipe Calderón's war against the country's drug organizations, drug-related deaths have soared to 40,000 since he took office in 2006, more than any period since the Mexican revolution.
"We need to concentrate all our efforts on combating violence and crime that affects people, instead of concentrating on the drug issue," said a former foreign minister, Jorge G. Castaneda. "It makes absolutely no sense for us to put up 50,000 body bags to stop drugs from entering the United States."