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Feds warn of drug cartels laundering drug profits through Texas flea markets

October 26, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Feds warn of drug cartels laundering drug profits through Texas flea markets

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Mexican drug cartels have been purchasing and selling counterfeit items at small stores and flea markets as a method of laundering drug profits, according to federal agents. As Halloween celebrations approach, authorities are advising about particular counterfeit goods that may pose a health risk to innocent customers.

Supervisory Special Agent with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Ed Hurtado, told Breitbart Texas: “Transnational criminal organizations have been trading in counterfeit goods as a way of laundering drug profits.”

The TCO’s, which is a government word for drug cartels, use “dirty” drug proceeds to purchase counterfeit goods from countries such as the Philippines or China, Hurtado indicated. Once the products are brought into the United States, the cartels sell the items, which enable them to use the proceeds from the sale of the counterfeit goods as a way to conceal the true nature of the funds.

HSI agents have been working around the clock this month to address the issue of increasing amounts of artificial color contact lenses and make-up that has been sold at local flea markets. Part of the operation deals with raising awareness about the potential health hazards presented by the goods, which become particularly popular around this time of the year as part of Halloween costumes.

“Contact lenses are considered medical devices and as such only a medical professional can get you a prescription for them,” Hurtado stated. “These items are sold without a prescription and at prices much lower than their retail price … If the price is too good to be true, it often is.”

The HSI reported that the makeup and contact lenses are manufactured in China and other countries that do not have the same health regulations as factories based in the U.S. In the saline liquid that the contact lenses come in, authorities have discovered bacteria, while the make-up often contains carcinogens.

“At the end of the day you have to ask yourself, is this something that you want your mother, your wife, or your daughter being exposed to,” Hurtado added.

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