The Financial Intelligence Unit ( UIF ), under the Finance Ministry, has gained notoriety in the last two years, especially since the phrase “freezing accounts” has become common during the current administration. For example, the UIF has frozen Emilio Lozoya’s bank accounts; in June, the government department froze the accounts of 2,000 people with ties to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel; in March, it froze over 12,000 bank accounts linked to crimes such as fuel theft and shell companies that issued fake invoices, among many other crimes.

Criminals always look for new ways to launder the resources that are the product of illegal activities, so the money can enter the legal market. However, authorities have created government departments to supervise unusual and suspicious transactions .

The Mexican government implemented the Federal Law for the Prevention and Identification of Operations Involving Resources Derived From Illicit Sources in 2013. It was created by the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering ( FATF ), an international organization fighting and preventing money laundering and terrorism funding, and whose recommendations have been approved by over 180 countries. Mexico has been a member of the FATF since 2000.


However, the report issued yesterday reveals scarce developments in the fight against organized crime . Between 2016 and 2018, criminal groups earned up to MXN billion in Mexico. There is not much difference between the 2016 evaluation and the 2020 report, since both documents place organized crime as a risk factor, a threat to national security, and a source of money laundering .

The Financial Intelligence Unit considers that the fight against criminal groups must include attacks on their finances, and not only focusing on arresting cartel bosses, a strategy that was widely used by previous governments.

Security experts have always demanded the implementation of this strategy because they consider that this is key to eradicate crime. Nevertheless, some have questioned the use of this strategy after the government department quickly froze the accounts of people linked to the recent protests in Chihuahua.

Since crime and violence have maintained the same levels as in previous governments, the UIF shouldn’t have to act in a way that resembles political retaliation, instead of enforcing the law. For the common good, the government department must follow the right path.


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