Cartel castles in Mexico evidence of drug money - CBS 5 - KPHO

Cartel castles in Mexico evidence of drug money

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NOGALES, AZ (CBS5) -

They stand out as much for their opulence as they do for the sheer fact that they are mansions in a border town where the typical home is little more than a cement block.

But many of the homes located in this neighborhood, located about three miles south of the border, also show signs of something more sinister. They have walls that stretch as high as 30 feet, with barbed wire on the top. One even sports a guard tower.

Law enforcement agents said there's really only one way border families get the money to build mansions like these - the drug trade.

"Even if you were one of the richest, wealthiest tomato growers in the area, you couldn't build a house like this," said Phil Jordan, a retired D.E.A. agent.

Jordan said the Sinaloa drug cartel controls the smuggling corridor that includes Nogales. That means if these homes were built with drug money, the owners have connections to the cartel.

"It's all the result of the ill-gotten proceeds from the Sinaloa cartel," Jordan said.

The neighborhood was long known as the home of many prominent Sonora families, but over the past five to ten years, many of the old families have moved out as people connected to the drug trade paid cash for the lots.

Many of the old homes were leveled and replaced by opulent mansions with pillars, cast iron gates and the tell-tale walls that could protect the residents from rival drug gangs.

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