As the crash of the housing market and stock markets unfolded several years ago, we learned much about the often questionable and illegal dealings of numerous large banking entities, such as J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and most recently, HSBC. Jason Hartman interviews the author of The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar’s Medellin Cartel, Robert Mazur about his undercover work in the drug cartels.
Within this shroud of secrecy, Robert came to know the dirty bankers and businessmen that were in the hierarchy of Columbia’s drug cartels, and he led the largest money-laundering takedown that brought about charges against more than 80 men and women across the globe. Many of the underworld bankers and business people are still powerful throughout the world, and the drug cartels are difficult, if not impossible, to stop because of the intricate web of lies and corruption in the financial systems. For more about Robert’s experiences and facts about what is still going on throughout the world, listen at: www.HolisticSurvival.com.
Robert Mazur is the President of Chase & Associates, and leads the company’s initiatives in litigation support, financial investigations, anti-money laundering compliance and training. Since 1998, Mr. Mazur has directed the company’s successful assistance to numerous law firms, public corporations, institutions, government agencies and professional business associations. Mr. Mazur is a graduate of Wagner College, Staten Island, NY. In July of 1998, he retired from a 27-year career as a federal agent.
During his government career, he was a Senior Special Agent with three federal agencies (IRS – Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Customs Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration). Mr. Mazur is a court certified expert in the fields of money laundering and international drug trafficking. He has attained this certification in the federal criminal courts of both the U.S. and Canada.
During his career as a federal agent, Mr. Mazur specialized as a long-term undercover agent in money laundering and drug investigations. He is best known for his 2-year undercover role as a money launderer in an investigation that resulted in the prosecutions of the Bank of Credit & Commerce International (BCCI), senior officers of BCCI, and high-ranking members of Colombian drug cartels. Mr. Mazur routinely designs and presents curriculum to federal, state and local law enforcement officers throughout the U.S and Caribbean. His lectures address Investigating Drug & Money Laundering Organizations, Managing Informants, Managing Undercover Operations, Financial Investigative Techniques, and Money Laundering in the Black Market Peso Exchange. (Top image: Flickr | ukhomeoffice)
Narrator: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary for you to survive and prosper? The Holistic Survival Show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently, to understand threats and how to create the ultimate action plan. Sudden change or worst case scenario, you’ll be ready. Welcome to Holistic Survival, your key resource for protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentlemen, your host Jason Hartman.
Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show. This is your host Jason Hartman, where we talk about protecting the people places and profits you care about in these uncertain times. We have a great interview for you today. And we will be back with that in less than 60 seconds on the Holistic Survival Show. And by the way, be sure to visit our website at HolisticSurvival.com. You can subscribe to our blog, which is totally free, has loads of great information, and there’s just a lot of good content for you on the site, so make sure you take advantage of that at HolisticSurvival.com. We’ll be right back.
Start of Interview with Robert Mazur
Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Robert Mazur to the show. He is the author of a new book, The Infiltrator: The secret life inside the dirty banks behind Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel. And that of course is the drug cartel. And with HSBC being in the news so recently for kind of aiding and abetting drug cartels and laundering money and doing their global banking, I think this will be especially interesting. Bob welcome. How are you?
Robert Mazur: I’m fine. Thank you for the invitation.
Jason Hartman: Well good. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show. Now you spent years as I guess an undercover FBI agent?
Robert Mazur: In that particular case I was with the US test and service office of enforcement, which is now the department of homeland security. Subsequently, I went on to the drug enforcement administration and worked there as an undercover agent as well.
Jason Hartman: So you were in deep cover, and were you doing drug deals with these guys?
Robert Mazur: Well, ultimately I did wind up dealing with people who were moving tons of cocaine, and based on the information that I was able to get from them and pass on to my handlers, seizures of more than three thousand pounds of cocaine occurred. So yeah, these were people who were major transporters, people who were part of what I would consider to be the commanding control of the Medellin cartel. At the highest levels I dealt with people, several of whom, reported directly to Pablo Escobar. His principle consigliore, a lawyer by the name of Santiago Uribe who was to the rest of the world a professor at the University of Medellin, practicing lawyer and a person who dealt with the legislator.
Except, the reality is the way he dealt with the legislator was to pay off the senators in Columbia to do things such as passing a law he proposed, which was then the non-extradition law of Columbia that prevented Pablo Escobar and other drug traffickers from being extradited to the United States and several other countries.
Jason Hartman: Does Columbia still have that by the way? Because Columbia has cleaned up its act quite a bit from what I understand. Will they extradite now?
Robert Mazur: Well, yes. There certainly is extradition now, and in some regards Columbia has I guess “cleaned up their act”, but the reality is that they are the engine that begins the supply of cocaine. They, the Bolivian and Peruvian cartels are the most powerful cocaine distributers in the world. They really changed their business model not long after I was dealing with them. When I dealt with them, there was a very strong presence of Columbian traffickers in Mexico who were receiving shipments of cocaine that came into Mexico literally in 27 jets that would be landing at military air force bases because the local military, or at least the generals had been paid off. And then through Columbian traffickers in the United States, it was distributed into the United States.
But what they came to realize was that when they lost the non-extradition law they were at great peril continuing to do the dirty work in our borders. So they changed and made their business model selling on a wholesale level to the Mexican cartels to let them do most of the dirty work to actually cross our borders with the drugs and distribute the cocaine and methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the United States. So the Columbian cartels now are just as active, if not more, in the production of cocaine that’s distributed around the world than they ever were.
Jason Hartman: Now, just give us a bird’s eye view really quickly of the drug trade. Has cocaine come down in price or is it as big a business as it used to be? I don’t hear as much about it as I used to. I hear a lot about meth. I guess meth is really like the most dangerous drug I think of all. I may be wrong about that, feel free to correct me, but it seems like I hear a lot about meth. I’m not sure why exactly.
Robert Mazur: Well you hear a lot about meth because of things that the Mexican cartels and others are doing. But just last year there was a seizure of 30 tons of methamphetamine at a farm in Mexico. Unfortunately there was no one present at the time that the seizure was made. Kind of an interesting curve to the seizure. But the production of methamphetamine is huge out of Mexico. And a lot of the chemicals come from China directly to Mexico, and are produced there and then brought into the United States. We have a big problem here in the United States not just with cocaine and heroin and methamphetamine and other drugs, but we also have a very huge problem in the abuse of prescription drugs.
Jason Hartman: Oh, yeah. I have done shows on that. I can’t believe it, but go on. Yeah.
Robert Mazur: In Florida there are more deaths from oxycodone and oxycontin, misuse of those, than there is of any drug whatsoever. But cocaine is alive and well. it’s more expensive now than it was at the time when I was working within the cartel. When I was working within the cartel is was still made for about the same amount, it cost about 500 dollars to make.
Jason Hartman: And how long ago? Give us the years so we have a sense of time here.
Robert Mazur: Late 80s, early 90s was my time frame working as a long term undercover…
Jason Hartman: And so you say it’s more expensive now, and you know I just have to ask, are you adjusting for inflation? I’m an economist.
Robert Mazur: There is a little bit of that in there too, but we would, and when I say we I mean the people that I dealt with, they had a cost. These were very, very sophisticated people. These are people who could have run Microsoft if they really wanted to. They just happened to be involved in distributing cocaine. To them it was widgets. It was cost of goods, cost of transportation, cost of distribution. It cost them about $500 per kilo to make it. It cost them about $2500 per kilo to transport it into the United States. And then they would sell it at a minimum for a 10 to 11 thousand, maybe $12,000 profit per kilo. And that generated literally billions of dollars a year, and still does today.
There are major routes or cocaine that run from South America. The Columbian cartels, now the largest of which is called the Norte del Valle Cartel, has control of at its best estimate by law enforcement, US law enforcement, probably a fleet of about 65 semi-submersible submarines that are each capable of moving ten tons of cocaine at a time. They can move it for thousands and thousands of miles with a four man crew.
Jason Hartman: And what does semi-submersible mean? How deep can it go? It’s not completely submerged?
Robert Mazur: Basically it has a little turret at the top that is very loose and in a very small way, cuts through the water and is visible, compared to a large vessel. 90% of this vessel or more is underwater. It’s like the iceberg just being the tip at the top versus the entire vessel being above the water.
Jason Hartman: In other words it doesn’t need oxygen systems probably because it’s got that tip above.
Robert Mazur: It doesn’t, but some of them are extraordinarily sophisticated. There have been fully submergible submarines that have been identified being used by the Columbian cartels.
Jason Hartman: It’s interesting. How do they detect those? Are they using military sonar? Are our subs looking for their subs? It’s just a coast guard job I would assume, drug enforcement, right?
Robert Mazur: the coast guard works extraordinarily closely with our military intelligence and with the drug enforcement administration. There’s an operation called Panama Express that’s operated out of Tampa actually, the middle district of Florida, that is geared toward seizing vessels no matter where they may be on the high seas and bringing them into the middle district of Florida for prosecution. There’s been many successful prosecutions doing that. But between military, between them, the coastguard and several federal law enforcement agencies, plus working in conjunction with our ally nations in the area, those task forces are somewhat effective at identifying and seizing. But they’ve really, I think there’s 6 or 7 of the semi-submersible subs that have been seized thus far.
Jason Hartman: What does that cost the cartels? How much money are they spending on those submarines? Those have got to be a fortune right?
Robert Mazur: No, frankly I don’t know. I’m not sure exactly what the cost is to make them. They are worth their weight in gold, by far.
Jason Hartman: Sure, yeah.
Robert Mazur: And that doesn’t meant that they’re still also not doing, and they certainly are doing, a lot of the large go-fast boats that go through the Caribbean, go across the Gulf of Mexico, so it’s not all in one particular way being moved. Unfortunately there’s also now, as a result of what I think is an insurgence of the democracy in Mexico, a significant amount of corruption within the military and law enforcement and judicial and legislative systems there that enable the cartels to operate. And that was the theory that the Columbians really applied to their new business model. Their theory that they can control the environment in Mexico.
The likelihood of us being prosecuted in Mexico is slim to none. So therefore, all we need to do is increase production and sell on a wholesale basis and we’re still going to be ridiculously profitable, and let the Mexican cartels take on the biggest risks. But what some people don’t recognize is that in addition to that route that goes to South America, through Mexico and then up into North America into the United States and Canada, there’s another completely separate route that is equally as profitable, that runs from Venezuela to the nations of North Africa, well West Africa mostly. Togo, Benin, Mali, Ghana – many of these nations where the cartels have gone in and again, corrupted governments in order to be able to use West Africa as a transshipment point for the distribution of huge amounts of cocaine that move up into Europe.
There’s some cases that have been brought in the last several years that very clearly document that activity. One that your listeners should Google is the last name of Joumaa and drug trafficking or money laundering. And you will find a very interesting case that’s becoming fortunately too common place. And it shows an alliance and a close working relationship between the Mexican cartels, the Columbian cartels and Hezbollah. And the business that are used in the Joumma organization, which went from Lebanon into many of the West African nations, on into Columbia, Panama and other parts of the world are very legitimate otherwise appearing companies that are the typical very, very sophisticated fronts that are used by the complex and powerful drug cartels that really affect our borders significantly. And now with their working in concert with Hezbollah, of course Hezbollah is not involved in generating profits for the sake of buying speedy boats – they’re looking to finance terrorist activities and weapons. And that’s a very scary formula that has evolved. As we’ve been fighting wars in the Middle East, this very present danger has been evolving and is really at a very, very serious level.
There are reports that have been dine recently, one of the better ones about the relationships of Hezbollah and the cartels, and the presence of Hezbollah south of our borders, and the insurgence of our borders by them in a report done by one of the subcommittees, a congressional subcommittee. It’s called A Line in the Sand. And it’s a report that was put out, I believe Mccaul is the name of the congressmen who is the chair of that particular subcommittee. It’s the subcommittee on oversight investigations and management.
So that came out in November of 2012, and congressman Michael Mccaul is the chairman of that. And if you go through that, it gives you very specific examples of the drug Cartels working closely with Hezbollah, not just in the movement of drugs and money, but in the movement of arms, human trafficking, and it really is an eye opener because it doesn’t just talk about the theory. It gives you real cases that you can look at.
Jason Hartman: Okay, so a bunch of things here. This is such a big topic. So first of all, you mentioned Venezuela and North Africa – that is a big ocean to cross. These companies, I’ll call them companies, these cartels, they’re just giant well-funded enterprises. Is there any idea if you compared them to publicly traded companies on the New York Stock exchange, what would their market cap be? Give us a sense of the size of the Medellin cartel or any others you want to mention.
Robert Mazur: Well, I think one of the bodies that attempted to measure this was the United Nations of drugs and crime. UNODC put a report out in October of 2011. That was a two year report that focused on the year 2009 on what the global revenue was from the sale of illegal drugs. And actually their study went well beyond that. It’s a document well worth reading by your listeners.
So, again, just Google “United Nations on Drugs and Crime October 2011 report” and you’ll find this report. And what it measures is that the global annual revenue is roughly in the area of about $400 billion dollars a year. And that only makes up a smaller portion of the revenue that comes from illegal activities, which they also attempt to measure and come up with their estimate of$ 1.2 trillion dollars a year. So it’s no wonder that there are segments of the international banking and business community that market this money. I learned that undercover, first hand, dealing face to face recording conversations with senior managers within the seventh largest privately held banking in the world.
Jason Hartman: Wait a second, so 400 billion not including everything, is that just for Medellin?
Robert Mazur: No, no. We’re talking about globally.
Jason Hartman: So that’s for all cartels. That’s the whole drug business.
Robert Mazur: And they break it down by area of profits generated. I believe the US was credited with somewhere in the vicinity of about 65 billion a year being generated within the borders of the United States in the sale of illegal drugs. What is important I think to take away from that report, is that if you also compare that with the publically available information from the Department of Justice asset forfeiture website, where our government publically discloses the value of the illegal proceeds that they seize during the course of a given year.
In recent years, and there’s no offer within that report of how much of it is from drug trafficking, how much of it is from Bernie Madoff, how much of it is from fines that were given to Pharmaceutical companies. So we’re talking about the whole government and its asset forfeitures. Other than the last two years, most often that has averaged a total of about a billion a year. There’s no doubt that the asset forfeitures gained in drug cases on an annual basis has not exceeded a billion dollars a year in any of the most recent years.
So let’s take a look at that and compare it to the amount that’s being generated. 400 billion a year being generated, one billion a year being seized by the most aggressive country with respect of law enforcement involved in seizures. That’s 1/4th of 1%. That’s not a whole heck of a lot. We are not having no matter what everybody else tries to suggest, we are not having a very significant impact on the treasuries of these major cartels. They act with impunity. The guys that you see in the orange jumpsuits that are dragged before cameras, most often in my view, yes they are the face of violence within the cartels.
But the people that I dealt with had strings to puppets like that that they pulled. The people that I dealt with were doctors, lawyers, corporate exec types, people who were running these organizations in the shadows in a very, very professional way. Those are the individuals that really we need to go after. And when it comes to the banking side, I’m just astounded that our government has the type of evidence that it has repeatedly gathered over the last 5 or 6 years about criminality within the highest levels of major international banks. Despite that, and the fact that they have enough evidence to return an indictment.
Jason Hartman: Wait, but are you really surprised Bob? I mean, bankers have lobbyists. The banksters and the Wall St. criminals, it is mind boggling to me, and I’m sure it boggles your mind as well, and I’m talking about the Wall St. side, not the drug cartel side per say, but that nobody has gone to jail out of the financial crisis that we’ve had the last few years. It is sickening. It is sickening. Don’t get me started on a rant with this, but it is amazing. it just proves that these scumbag criminals and their accounting firms and their law firms that are accessories to the crime, and their publicity firms frankly, they bought off the congress, they own the senate. They own the government. It’s just disgusting.
Robert Mazur: There are many examples, and I know a dozen off the top of my head. But I’d like to briefly just talk about the most recent one in HSBC, Hong Kong/Shanghai Bank Corporation. Now, HSBC may sound like a faraway type bank, but it’s not. There were more than 400 branches in the United States, there were 470 actually and they were managing $200 billion dollars in assets, those branches within the United States for 3.8 million customers. Now, that’s a bank with a lot of presence in the United States. As you can see from two sources, one: the governments deferred prosecution with HSBC, and deferred prosecutions drive me crazy.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, do you want to just explain what that is really quickly?
Robert Mazur: Sure. It’s basically a contract. If the bank has committed a criminal offense, the government has and files an indictment against the bank. And then this deferred prosecution is filed at the same time. It defers to prosecution of the indictment, and it sets certain standards that the bank now has to meet in order for the government later to dismiss the indictment without the bank ever having to plead guilty or innocent to the indictment.
So, this deferred prosecution contract called for the payment of a fine, it calls for the bank to allow monitoring by an official monitor that is set up, which is usually one of the big accounting firms. And then it also requires the bank to not conduct the illegal activity that it was conducting prior to the deferred prosecution for a period of time. And in HSBC’s case, it’s a period of 5 years. The disgusting thing to me is the facts of the case. Here we are: we have HSBC managing accounts that took in at least $881 million dollars of money from the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico and the Norte del Valle Cartel in Columbia.
We know for a fact that their relationship with the cartels were so cozy, that the drug traffickers had hand crafted wooden boxes that would be brought into the branches in Mexico, and Mexico reported to the New York office, in Mexico they would bring these wooden boxes in that were filled with cash and were bringing in untold amounts of cash right in the city within Sinaloa that was the home of the leadership of the Sinaloa cartel.
And beyond that we have wire taps that were disclosed from the Mexican authorities to our law enforcement, where a Mexican cartel leader is bragging on the phone that HSBC in Mexico is the place to bring your money, the best place to get your money laundered. Now with that you would think that our government would have known, okay this branch is, or those branches in Mexico are where the money is going. They would try to find out who at the bank knew it was drug money and they would try to go after who it was that was prosecuting. But that didn’t happen.
What happened is our law enforcement sat on the sidelines while the bank regulators in Mexico went, and they knew it, went to the CEO at HSBC in Mexico and said, we think you have a problem at your branch. We believe that the cartels are bringing a lot of cash in and we need your help to not allow that to go on anymore. And they tried to basically talk them into not carrying this conduct out anymore. And of course, after those meetings the conduct not only continued, but it even accelerated during a period of time. There were many, many other things that HSBC did that clearly were violations of the law. But not one person was held responsible and the bank paid what the department of justice claims was a great accomplishment of a 1.9 billion dollar fine. But if you look closely, in 2010 alone, HSBC’s net profits before taxes were over $19 billion dollars.
Jason Hartman: So the 1.9 billion was it? That’s a slap on the wrist essentially.
Robert Mazur: It’s 10% of one year’s revenue for the privilege of being able to take in billions and billions of dollars. it’s ridiculous.
Jason Hartman: Look folks, listeners should understand, and this is just my opinion, these big companies, it’s basically like the concept of too big to fail. it’s applied to criminal behavior, which in the drug cartels, they’re too big to fail. that’s why the banks depend on them because they’re so profitable, it’s just a matter of following the money. And then the bankers that move them into the sort of legitimacy side or the legal side of the issue, they just put these fines in their business plan. They just put the cost of the litigation with the government and any potential fine, it’s just part of their business plan, it’s just a contingency – they plan to pay like they would pay for advertising or marketing or anything else.
And now they know that they can just get a pass for paying what just amounts to a slap on the wrist type of fine, and nobody goes to jail, they enter into these deferred prosecution agreements. It’s just complete corruption at the highest levels of our financial system and our government. It’s disgusting.
Robert Mazur: And there is to me an apparent conflict of interest by the people who shove this deal down the people’s throats at the department of justice. And I’m speaking principally of Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer. Lanny Breuer up until recently, he resigned, but up until recently he was the chief of the criminal division. And he and Eric Holder prior to coming to the department of justice were partners together in a law firm called Covington & Burling. That law firm in Washington DC represents the who’s who of banking. And for these guys to have repeatedly during the period of time in which they have been in leadership in the department of justice, to have been pushing so hard for these types of deferred prosecutions, to me it just doesn’t feel right. It’s just not what I think this country really ought to be about.
And we have Lanny Breuer that hold up this fine of $1.9 million – it really reminds me of the Emperor’s new clothes, because everyone around him in the government says oh yes, what a wonderful, wonderful thing. But everybody else outside of the government recognizes it’s a farce. It’s an absolute farce.
Jason Hartman: Let me take a brief pause. We’ll be back in just a minute.
Narrator: Now you can get Jason’s Creating Wealth in Today’s Economy home study course. All the knowledge and education revealed in a 9 hour day of the Creating Wealth Boot Camp. Created in a home study course for you to dive into at your convenience. For more details go to JasonHartman.com.
Jason Hartman: You know, I’ve got to ask you though, I’m a Ronald Reagan fan, but his war on drugs which is I guess it may be conflict to ask you this, it kept you employed for many years, not to say you wouldn’t have been employed anyway if you didn’t sort of declare it and make such a big deal out of it, but has it just been a miserable failure?
Robert Mazur: Well, there are certain aspects of it in my view that are failures and I think there are certain aspects of it right now that are critical to our national security.
Jason Hartman: And let me actually, before you fully answer, let me tell you where I’m coming from on that. My libertarian side says maybe the way to put them out of business or to minimize their impact is to just let the free market happen, and there of course I’m talking about legalization. Now, just so everybody knows where I’m coming from: given, look, there is no grey choice here first of all. We’ve got to understand that every choice has a consequence and there is no good choice. But faces with the bargain that we have, I would be in favor of legalizing marijuana because I think that would drastically minimize the drug cartels business especially in Mexico I guess. I’m not sure, but that’s my understanding.
I really don’t like the idea of legalizing anything more serious like cocaine or anything like that, but it would be one of their product lines would be taken away essentially. Your thoughts? There’s no good choice here obviously.
Robert Mazur: I agree with you on that. With respect to the marijuana issue, people have to recognize that right now there is a complete mass of confusion between the laws of the states and the federal government’s view on marijuana. The drug enforcement administration categorizes marijuana as a schedule 1 drug, the most dangerous of drugs.
Jason Hartman: But that’s absurd. That’s just absurd.
Robert Mazur: A drug to be a schedule 1, must not only be harmful to you and a drug that can be abused, but it has to have no medical purpose. So how do we say that when 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws establishing medical marijuana distribution? That, to me needs to be resolved one way or another.
And then we go on to the issue of the decriminalization of the personal use quantities of marijuana, which is what’s occurred in Washington and Colorado. When you really look closely at that, you are allowing people who are 21 years of age to possess an ounce. They can’t smoke it in public – they can’t smoke it and drive – they can grow 6 or less plants, and what individuals decide to do with marijuana in the privacy of their home, when you look at the scheme of things, and we’re talking about the war on drugs, it’s meaningless. I don’t believe that that in the long run will hurt on the war on drugs, and frankly there are some aspects of it that I think it would be helpful in.
One of the things that always troubled me when I was with the drug enforcement administration is that probably 80% of the resources were applied toward cases that really weren’t the heads of the snake. They weren’t the major, huge drug cartel leadership that was having the massive negative impact on our society. Often times at the end of the fiscal year because agencies justify their existence based upon statistics, numbers of arrests, numbers of seizures, the word would be put out by management. You need to get with the local law enforcement officers and adopt as many of their cases as you can into the federal system so that we can get our numbers up and we can get our budget justified when we go before congress.
Well, I don’t believe that it’s right to go out and take these small drug cases and force them into the federal system where people become exposed to very lengthy prison sentences, and we begin to fill our prisons with people who are not the real crux of the problem.
Jason Hartman: Here again, we have a problem that the small time user or criminal doesn’t have a lobbyist working for him and the big scumbag bankers and the cartels essentially, they have lobbyists in one form or another. Or they just intimidate the hell out of the police forces in the country and cut their heads off, so that’s another form of lobbying I guess. Intimidation lobbying versus money lobbying and influence peddling. But it’s just unbelievable.
This country is supposed to the freest on earth and yet it’s got the highest incarceration rate. The prisons are now a privatized business which in concept I was for privatizing the prison system because I just thought heck, private enterprise will do it better than the government, but now you’ve got these new iron triangles that have been formed where everybody’s got an interest in it and so let’s just give more business to the prisons, let’s incarcerate more people, and it’s absurd. You walk down the street smoking a joint or don’t pay your parking tickets, I’m not sure if the parking ticket thing, how that works, but you violate some automobile law and you go to prison, yet these criminals that are pulling the strings and allowing it all to happen are living on their yacht for free.
Jason Hartman: One of the bright spots of the enforcement side of it and one of the reasons that I believe that there are portions of the war on drugs that is highly successful, is my exposure to a certain segment of a certain segment of the drug enforcement administration called the Special Operations Division which is based in Virginia and works very, very closely with our military and intelligence communities as well with their counterparts in law enforcement intelligence and military in our ally nations. And there are probably 20 or more different federal agencies that are a part of the Special Operations Division’s activities.
But what they do is they identify on a global basis, they identify the biggest of the big guys, and they go after them. They’re the ones who made the Joumma case, they’re the ones that are responsible for having prosecuted Viktor Bout, who is a major supplier of arms illegally to terrorist organizations around the world.
They enforce extraterritorial laws, US extraterritorial laws that are targeted toward an individual no matter where they are on this planet, if they are involved with a conspiracy and the goal of the conspiracy is the bring drugs to the United States and sell them, they can be a drug lord in Afghanistan, Peru, Bolivia, I don’t care where you are, they have the venue and they have the resources and they have the know-how of how to go after putting together cases against those individuals.
They also enforce extraterritorial laws as it relates to providing aide to terrorist organizations. And the way that they got Viktor Bout was by having a couple of their informants pose as members of Farc, which is the leftist guerilla terrorist organization in Columbia, whose among other things goals is to kill any Americans that they can find in Columbia and then also to distribute drugs into the Unites States.
And they wound up working a deal with Viktor Bout where he thought he was going to be selling millions and millions of dollars’ worth of arms, met with them in Thailand, was arrested in Thailand as a result, and then a fight went on for a year with Russia trying to prevent them from interceding on Viktor Bout’s behalf because Viktor Bout was previously in the Russian military, had very, very close ties to the KGB, and they didn’t want him behind bars in the United States, but we prevailed and he was prosecuted in New York just a year or so ago. And he’ll be in prison for the better part of the rest of his life now.
It’s those kinds of cases where individuals have the capacity to be able to sell missiles, helicopters, unbelievable amounts of weaponry to terrorist organizations that want to disrupt the operation of free government that really needs to be attacked. As well as those that are at the highest levels of these drug organizations, working with terrorist groups for the purposes of not just making profits for themselves, but helping those terrorist groups to develop a revenue stream for their terrorist activity.
So those types of cases, I believe we cannot ignore. If we do ignore them they are going to affect our national security because those organizations are breaching our borders on a daily basis, their goal right now is more focused on drug trafficking but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be able to figure out that you can use those same 40 foot containers that are otherwise full of cocaine or money and fill them with hazardous materials. And as we begin to see a greater and greater influence of these organizations on democracies like Mexico and like many of the nations in West Africa, it’s a scary situation that these organizations have the grip on those countries like they presently do. That work has to continue.
Jason Hartman: Well, good stuff. This has been a fascinating conversation and obviously an ongoing problem. Tell people where they can get the book, and Bob do you have an individual website as well?
Robert Mazur: Yeah, there’s a website for the book. It’s the-infiltrator.com, and on there you can go through a bunch of tabs, there’s information about the movie that’s being developed from the book, a lot of reviews, and then there’s a where to buy tab and that will take you to links on Amazon and other major book distributers where you can buy the book. Basically it’s a book about my life undercover as a money launderer within the Medellin cartel, and acting as a conduit to what was then the seventh largest privately held bank in the world.
And all of the information in the book is true – all of the quotes that are in there are based upon roughly 12 hundred recordings that I and my partner made during the course of two year undercover operation. And so it’s not fantasy as to what these international bankers said and did and it’s the real deal.
Jason Hartman: So, one final question for you. I assume that every day when you were working undercover, when you were actively doing it in deep cover, you must have been afraid for your life.
Robert Mazur: You know, I get asked that question a lot. And frankly, the honest answer is no. I was very fortunate. This was not something where they just picked me up and dumped me into the middle of an undercover operation like the movie Departed suggests with Leonardo Dicaprio, a new hire and they were going to have him be an undercover. I was an agent for 14 years before I volunteered to become a long term undercover agent. I dealt with some of the biggest drug traffickers and money launders before working long term undercover, except I did it in the conventional sense of going after them with informants and wire taps, and search warrants, as historical cases. So I knew the business very, very well.
And I also was so fortunate by being mentored by some of the very best undercover agents that previously had done this type of work, including the likes of Joe Pistone who’d been the FBI agent who the book and the movie Donnie Brasco was based on.
Jason Hartman: Okay, so the answer is you weren’t nervous, you weren’t afraid. That’s amazing.
Robert Mazur: No, because if I allowed myself to do that, it would show through and it would become a liability for me and I couldn’t allow it.
Jason Hartman: Okay, fair enough. But now, saying all this now, a lot of these players and powers that be are still around. Aren’t you afraid they’ll just come after you now for retribution? Even though you’re not active – you’re talking about the story. Maybe not even the drug cartels, which people assume they’re so violent, but the bankers themselves, they employ hit men I’m sure, and do things to try and ruin people’s lives.
Robert Mazur: As I mentioned in the book, there was a contract that was put out on my life after the undercover operation as told to me by two federal agencies and one intelligence agency. And my wife, two children and I went underground and lived like Salman Rushdie for years. It’s a long time ago, there are people out there that still are not happy with me, but this is an important story I believe.
I believe that, and when I was an agent I felt as though that I was there for a calling. And I felt that I was there because I wanted to be just what I was, a public servant. I wanted to be able to look my neighbors and my family in the eyes at the end of the day and be able to say, I did the very best for you that I could do today.
Jason Hartman: Well, you’re a principled guy and everybody certainly appreciates that. But boy, I’ve got to tell you, I would think that that would be very scary.
Robert Mazur: There are some security things that we do, but all in all, I really want to share this story with the public. I think they need to know about the very in depth involvement of the international banking community within the drug world and the underworld. And I think it’s also a story about how a lot of ordinary people who have a like mind of wanting to be able to make a difference can work together and as a team, achieve something of real significance despite having to deal with the underworld, the corrupt banks, the corrupt politicians and all the other challenges that you have to face when you try to go after really big time bad guys.
Jason Hartman: Sure, sure. So, Bob, thank you for joining us today. The book is The Infiltrator: My secret life inside the dirty banks behind Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel. Thank you so much joining us today, Bob.
Robert Mazur: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for the invitation.
Narrator: Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show, protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth Show which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search “Jason Hartman” on iTunes. This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own, and none of the content should be considered individual advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed.
Transcribed by Ralph
Guest: Robert Mazur
iTunes: Stream Episode