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HSBC Mexican Branches Said to Be Traffickers’ Favorites

HSBC Holdings Plc’s Mexican branches had become so well-known to drug traffickers as the place to launder proceeds from illicit sales that cartels began using special boxes to speed transactions, U.S. prosecutors said.

From 2006 to 2010, the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico and the Norte del Valle Cartel in Colombia moved more than $881 million in proceeds through HSBC’s U.S. unit, said Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division. Breuer, along with U.S. Attorney Lorretta Lynch in Brooklyn, New York, announced yesterday the bank had agreed to pay at least $1.9 billion to settle money laundering probes.