US regulations meant to stop Mexican drug-cartel money laundering are threatening Southern Arizona’s food producers while many cross-border importers are struggling to find banks willing to do business with them.

Bank of America and Citigroup subsidiary Banamex USA no longer provide local services, while Chase has closed one of its two South Arizona branches.

Wholesale closures
Banks have reportedly closed thousands of accounts along the US-Mexican border, with some local businesses having to exert considerable efforts to secure banking services.

Sierra Seed Company for example has had three banks in five years and has had new account applications rejected by several more.

In 2010, the company’s longstanding bankers, Southern Arizona Community Bank, withdrew its banking facilities.

Sierra Seed Company then approached Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Vantage West, National Bank of Tucson and BBVA Compass.

Long negotiations
The company eventually managed to open an account with Chase, only to have it closed by the bank after eighteen months.

After 20 months of negotiations, Sierra Seed Company opened an account with its current bankers, Bank of America.