Following the news that the Mexican military seized $15 million in cash allegedly belonging to Chapo in Tijuana, I want to bring up a point that is rarely mentioned in the drug war: the soldiers actually brought the cash in.
Imagine stumbling upon $15 million in cash. You've searched a car, and there, just sitting there, is $15 million. You could pocket that cash and walk across the border into the US, and you'd never be heard from again. Neither you nor I can really fathom that amount of money. Nor, if we are entirely honest, can we imagine not being tempted to walk off with it. Yet these soldiers turned the money in to their superiors. They didn't take any of it (as far as we know). Kudos.
Incidentally, most news reports are claiming that this is the second-largest seizure of cash during the Calderon administration. It's actually the third. Here's an account (from The Last Narco) of the largest seizure and how a few honest cops refrained from taking a slice of the $207 million that was seized in Zhenli Ye Gon's Mexico City mansion.
//Antonio (not his real name) once helped lead a raid on a mansion in the swanky Mexico City district of Lomas de Chapultepec. The property belonged to Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-Mexican businessman who the authorities believed was importing methamphetamine precursors for Chapo and the Sinaloa cartel.
Antonio and his crew found an enormous stash of cash in the mansion: 207 million in US dollars, 18 million Mexican pesos, 200,000 euros, 113,000 Hong Kong dollars and nearly a dozen gold bullion coins.
Antonio and another top police commander (his superior, on that occasion) wanted to make sure none of the cops walked off with any of the loot. So they ordered their men to empty their pockets and remove their clothes prior to leaving the scene. They did; no one had stolen anything. The other commander and his men then began to leave, but Antonio blocked him. No, everyone, he told the ranking man. What my men do, I do. So the two of them stripped down to their underwear.
Antonio and his superior (as well as their subordinates) were both clean – that time. But the superior officer would later be charged with links to organized crime and, specifically, receiving vast amounts of cash from one cartel in exchange for information on anti-narco operations.