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Drug Profits 'Infect' Financial System, U.N. Official Says

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Profits from the illegal narcotics trade are being laundered through bank deposits and stock investments as organized crime exploits the current global financial situation, according to a top United Nations antidrug official.

The Associated Press reported Jan. 30 that Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, called the current global economic situation “a golden opportunity” for criminal organizations. “The money is available and the need for that money is there,” Costa said. “I think the whole system is infected.”

Costa said that the illicit drug trade, worth about $323 billion per year, provides ample temptation for banks and banking officials. “I'm pretty sure that when someone knocks at the door of a banker with a few million, or tens of millions of dollars in a briefcase, the bank has plenty of reasons to doubt the origin,” Costa said.

Costa said that money could also be coming into the banking system from human trafficking, the smuggling of arms, and other illegal trade.

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