Friday, June 04 2010 @ 08:12 AM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
Editor's Comment: In Panama, the cocaine goes North and the money comes South. Law enforcement authorities fighting the drug war focus on both flows, and if they can't stop the drugs then they do everything they can to try to stop the money from the proceeds of the drug trafficking. Simply moving around large amounts of cash is a logistical problem for the drug traffickers. One million dollars in $20 dollar bills weighs about 110 pounds. Every year experts estimate about 250 tons of cocaine passes through Panama. That converts to 226,796 kilograms. Each kilogram of cocaine has a street value of about $100,000 dollars. That means the sale of the cocaine on the street will generate a whopping $22,679,600,000 dollars in cash - that's $22.6 billion dollars. You can convert that number to 22,679 million dollars. Since one million dollars in $20 dollar bills weighs 110 pounds, the cocaine traffic passing through Panama generates about 2.5 million pounds of cash every year that the drug traffickers have to try to smuggle back out of the United States, one way or another. They can't just stick it in banks anymore - any large sums of money with unexplained sources immediately draw attention. There are now "money sniffing dogs" that check things coming back South - bags, containers, packages, etc. And, if you're caught with more than $10,000 dollars in cash that you can't account for, you're arrested and charged as a money launderer.