The U.S. Treasury has taken aggressive steps to target a number of Mexican individuals and business entities closely linked to the leadership of Mexico’s two major criminal organizations–the Sinaloa and the Zetas cartels–in an effort to disrupt their money laundering operations.
On July 15, a week after the arrest of Miguel Treviño Morales, the vicious leader of the Zetas cartel, Treasury sanctioned two key individuals in his organization: José Odilón Ramírez Perales, a “powerful financial operative” responsible for controlling and laundering tens of millions of dollars in funds smuggled from the U.S. to Mexico for the Zetas; and Ismael López Guerrero, responsible for collecting dirty money from the Zetas operations in Nuevo Laredo and sending large quantities of smuggled cash to Ramírez Perales for safeguarding and processing in the Northern State of Coahuila.
Treasury’s Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), said that the fact that Treviño Morales was arrested with his accountant by his side, “is another clear example of the central importance of financial operatives within the operational structure of drug cartels.” Szubin added that the U.S. government will continue to work with their Mexican partners to target the Zeta’s money laundering operations and disrupt their financial activities.
Omar Treviño Morales is believed to have taken over as the head of the Zetas cartel after the arrest of his brother, Miguel Angel. On August 1st, Treasury sanctioned Jesús Fernandez de Luna, Omar Treviño Morales’s father-in-law, for laundering money on behalf of the Zetas. Treasury said that Zetas leaders Miguel and Omar Treviño Morales have used proceeds from narcotics trade to purchase American quarter horses, and launder the money through Omar’s father-in-law and his cattle business. In September 2012, Omar’s father-in-law purchased four valuable racehorses for Miguel and Omar Treviño Morales through Compañía Ganadera 5 Manantiales. The U.S. government seized and sold these horses at auction.
In a separate action, in 2001, the Western District of Texas indicted Jesús Fernández de Luna and his brother Gerardo Fernandez de Luna, along with Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, on narcotics trafficking charges.
The U.S. government is also going after “El Chapo” Guzmán’s organization. On July 30, OFAC accused business partners, family members and a lawyer linked to Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, of acting as his financial operatives. Zambada is Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s top lieutenant. Among those accused by Treasury is José Antonio Nuñez Bedoya, whom OFAC described as a Mexican attorney and notary public who helps create “front companies” to conceal and launder assets for the Sinaloa Cartel.
Nuñez Bedoya denies the charges and has threatened to sue the U.S. government. Asked for a response, a Treasury spokesperson said, “Nuñez Bedoya did serve as notary at one point for all six companies. Our release is accurate and we stand behind it.”
The companies targeted by Treasury as connected to the Sinaloa Cartel are Estancia Infantil Niño Feliz, Establo Puerto Rico, Santa Monica Dairy, Parque Acuático Los Cascabeles, Rancho Agrícola Ganadero Los Mezquites, and the Centro Comercial y Habitacional Lomas. They are all based in Sinaloa, Mexico.
The actions taken by Treasury under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) bar U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with these designated companies and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 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. The Treasury has imposed sanctions on more than 1,200 persons and entities linked to 103 drug kingpins worldwide since June 2000.
Re: U.S. Treasury Steps Up Actions Against Mexican Kingpins
Meh, I wouldn´t call it "aggressive steps" or even "stepping up", yeah a few individuals and businesses have been added to their black list and a few investigations have been opened, so now doing business with a child care business linked with CDS is a crime, fine, but what about the banks that actually move the money? noooo those are untouchable, neither the US or the Mexican governments are doing enough, it just looks like the US is doing the bare minimum to keep the press calm and México not even that.