Mexican drugs lords are making around $25 million a year mining coal along the United States border.
Local authorities in Mexico say they’ve been aware of the notoriously violent Zetas drug cartel mining and buying coal since October.
The group has targeted the mining rich state of Coahuila, which produces around 95 per cent of Mexico’s coal, and the cartel is allegedly selling ore back to state-owned companies at inflated prices.
According to News Limited, the Zetas are buying or producing around 10,000 tonnes of coal a week, and the venture is making around $25 million a year.
The Zetas are the first Mexican cartel to diversify from drugs into other areas," said Tomas Borges, author of a book on the cartels.
Some coal officials say the presence of drug cartels in Mexico’s mining regions is an “open secret,” and violence in the region has escalated since they entered the business.
In Colombia drug traffickers have infiltrated gold and coal mines, and also dealt in oil, and experts say the move into more legitimate business helps launder money and bring in extra revenue.