Organized Crime

Mexico lifts dollar restrictions after drug cartels target US businesses to launder profits

FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 file photo, law enforcement agents stand outside a clothing store after a raid in the Los Angeles Fashion District. Federal authorities on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, slapped new financial reporting rules on 2,000 businesses in the fashion district of Los Angeles in an effort to curtail suspected Mexican drug money laundering.(AP Photo/ Nick Ut, File)

FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014 file photo, law enforcement agents stand outside a clothing store after a raid in the Los Angeles Fashion District. Federal authorities on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014, slapped new financial reporting rules on 2,000 businesses in the fashion district of Los Angeles in an effort to curtail suspected Mexican drug money laundering.(AP Photo/ Nick Ut, File)  (The Associated Press)

A Mexican law to severely limit the amount of dollars that banks can accept in cash has led drug cartels to bring money back to the U.S. to be deposited in American banks and wired back in pesos under the guise of international trade.

U.S. front companies for cartels aren't new, but U.S. officials say they took a more prominent role after Mexico's restrictions on dollar deposits were introduced in 2010. An Associated Press analysis of customs declarations shows San Diego became a magnet for cash coming to the country from Mexico.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto lifted the restrictions last month, saying the anti-money laundering measure harmed honest businesses.