Thursday, January 17, 2008

Too weak for bad guys

More evidence of the U.S. dollar's weakness, about which we posted earlier this week:
According to the Wall Street Journal, the euro, and not the dollar, is now the currency of choice for efficient laundering of drug proceeds.
They're better value, after all -- there's nearly $1.50 to each euro today, a leap from the 85 cents each brightly colored bill was worth when it debuted on New's Year Day 2002. Indeed, 'way back when I wrote this article on anti-money-laundering measures, analysts were expressing concern that criminals would appreciate the smuggling promise of the euro. The currency now used in 15 countries is more compact -- available in amounts as high as 500€, it takes up less space when moved across borders. The flipflop in dollar-to-euro exchange value has simply increased the attraction.
The stronger currency also seems to have strengthened European appetites for cocaine:

Consumption of the drug has soared in much of Western Europe, according to a report released last year by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. In Italy, use of the drug rose to 2.1% of the general population in 2005 from 1.1% just four years earlier. In France, it tripled from 2000 to 2005, from 0.2% to 0.6% of the adult population. Cocaine use in England doubled from 1998 to 2006, according to Britain's National Health Service, to 2.4% among adults.

The United States is not fully out of the loop, however. After illicit transactions circle the globe from South America to Europe, and not infrequently to Africa, they still often end with the arrival in the United States of suitcases, filled now with "narco-euros."

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