Treasury Increases Pressure on Mexican Heroin Traffickers
March 6, 2018
New Kingpin Act Sanctions Target Joel Efren Ruelas Avila
Washington –The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today increased its pressure on major Mexican heroin traffickers by targeting individuals and companies close to the new leadership of the Ruelas Torres drug trafficking organization (Ruelas Torres DTO). Treasury imposed additional sanctions on eight Mexican individuals and eight Mexican companies linked to the Sinaloa-based criminal organization, which has been led by Joel Efren Ruelas Avila since the 2017 death of his father Jose Luis Ruelas Torres. This action is taken pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). As a result of today’s action, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions or otherwise dealing with these individuals and companies, and any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen.
“Heroin use is an epidemic in the United States, fueled by smugglers like Joel Efren Ruelas Avila and his drug trafficking organization who bring deadly drugs across our Southern border and seek to launder illicit proceeds back into Mexico,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “OFAC, DEA and the Department of Justice continue to methodically target the individuals and businesses who profit from the sale of this poison.”
Today’s OFAC action designates Mexican nationals Maria Monserrat Avila Rocha, Patricia Lourdes Ruelas Avila, Jose Maria Ruelas Avila, Trinidad Ruelas Avila, Raquel Rivera Guerrero, and Cruz Sanchez Medrano, all family members of Joel Efren Ruelas Avila. The OFAC action also targets Mexican nationals Pedro Sanchez Medrano and Reyna Isabel Rivera Sandoval, key associates of the Ruelas Torres DTO. The eight Mexican entities designated today include five agricultural companies, Agricola Ruelas S.P.R. de R.I., Alondra Produce, S.P.R. de R.I., Comercializadora Gael 4, S.A. de C.V., Dispersora Gael, S.A. de C.V., and Felixtapia S.C. de R.L. de C.V.; two construction companies, Constructora Joel, S.A. de C.V. and Constructora Vania, S.A. de C.V.; and one clothing boutique, Cruzita Novedades. All of the entities designated today are based or registered in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. OFAC, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Denver Field Division, and Mexican authorities worked closely to execute today’s action.
The Ruelas Torres DTO has been involved in the manufacture and distribution of heroin from Sinaloa, Mexico to the United States for generations. The Ruelas Torres DTO is now led by Joel Efren Ruelas Avila and immediate family members who support narcotics trafficking activities, including money laundering or maintaining assets on behalf of the Ruelas Torres DTO.
In 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado charged Mexican national Jose Luis Ruelas Torres and his son Joel Efren Ruelas Avila with running a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, along with related narcotics trafficking and money laundering offenses. OFAC identified Mexican national Jose Luis Ruelas Torres and the Ruelas Torres DTO as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act in May 2017. Mexican authorities arrested Jose Luis Ruelas Torres in April 2017, and he died in October 2017 while awaiting extradition to the United States. His son Joel Efren Ruelas Avila, who OFAC also designated in May 2017, leads the Ruelas Torres DTO and remains at large.
Since June 2000, more than 2,000 entities and individuals have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1,437,153 per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to the Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.
Information on the individuals and entities designated today
The Kingpin Act Chart on individuals and entities designated today
Those that say, don't know. Those that know, don't say.
Here's some more info from the May 26, 2017 article about the Ruelas Torres designation that was posted on mainboard by Yaqui.
US Treasury Dept Includes Ruelas Torres Cartel on Blacklist
Posted by Yaqui for Borderland Beat
Republished from DEA Press Release
Operation Dirty Dope
MAY 24 (WASHINGTON) – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today identified the Ruelas Torres Drug Trafficking Organization (Ruelas Torres DTO) and its leader, Mexican national Jose Luis Ruelas Torres, as Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). The Ruelas Torres DTO is a family-based, independent opium and heroin production and distribution organization that smuggles multi-kilogram heroin quantities into the United States.
OFAC also designated 10 key Ruelas Torres DTO associates as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in the organization. As a result of today’s action, all assets of those designated that are based in the United States or that are in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
“The joint efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration and OFAC represent a sustained initiative to combat foreign drug trafficking organizations, or those acting on behalf of them, from doing business via the United States,” said Barbara Roach, DEA Special Agent-in-Charge of the Denver Field Division. “Such sanctions serve as one of the most important and multi-faceted avenues with which U.S. law enforcement can effectively and efficiently disrupt and dismantle major international drug trafficking organizations and anyone doing business with them.”
“Treasury is targeting Jose Luis Ruelas Torres as a Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker under the Kingpin Act because he and his drug trafficking organization are major contributors to our nation’s heroin epidemic,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
“The Ruelas Torres Drug Trafficking Organization smuggles heroin from Mexico into the United States for distribution in cities from Los Angeles to New York City. This action will hinder its ability to move and use the illicit proceeds from this activity. Treasury and our partners in the DEA and the Mexican government are committed to exposing, disrupting, and dismantling these criminal networks.”
The Ruelas Torres DTO is composed of Jose Luis Ruelas Torres’s immediate and extended family members and has been involved in manufacturing, importing, and distributing heroin from Sinaloa, Mexico to the United States for well over two decades, as well as moving laundered drug proceeds from the United States to Mexico.
Ruelas Torres and his criminal organization distribute heroin to various cities throughout the United States, including Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Columbus, Detroit, and New York City.
The Ruelas Torres DTO is aligned with Mexican drug trafficker Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, a.k.a. “Chapito Isidro,” whom OFAC designated in January 2013. He and his associates are allegedly
involved in distributing large quantities of meth, heroin, marijuana and cocaine to the US since
Other reports indicate that he has worked with the Beltran Leyva Organization (which was allied with the Sinaloa Cartel, but broke away in the late 2000's) since the late 1990's and acted as a trafficker and enforcer on BLO's behalf in the state of Sinaloa.
Meza Flores is also involved in the battle for succession that has wracked the powerful Sinaloa
Cartel since Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera was arrested for the second time in 2016.
In 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado charged Ruelas Torres and his son Joel Efren Ruelas Avila with running a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, along with related narcotics trafficking and money laundering offenses. The indictment also charged Hector Librado Rivera Sandoval, Toribio Alberto Lugo Leon, and Jose Carlos Barraza Aceves with multiple charges related to narcotics trafficking, and Maria de Jesus Espinoza Rodriguez with several drug and money laundering charges. All of these individuals are being identified or designated today. In addition, the OFAC action targets Gilberto Ruelas Torres, Sigi Alfredo Mondaca Avila, Jesus Angel Ruelas Avila, Jose Luis Ruelas Avila, and Leobardo Ruelas Avila for their activities related to the Ruelas Torres DTO.
OFAC, DEA, and Mexican authorities worked closely to execute today’s action.
Since June 2000, more than 2,000 individuals and entities have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1,437,153 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties.
Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to the Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.
Those that say, don't know. Those that know, don't say.
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