The United States announced that it had designated four key Sinaloa Cartel drug operatives under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), freezing their U.S. assets.
The action, taken by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), includes two sons of Sinaloa drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera. It prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the four individuals and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
“OFAC will aggressively target those individuals who facilitate Chapo Guzman’s drug trafficking operations, including family members,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin, according to a Treasury Department news release. “With the Government of Mexico, we are firm in our resolve to dismantle Chapo Guzman’s drug trafficking organization.”
OFAC is designating Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar and Ovidio Guzman Lopez for their roles in their father’s drug trafficking organization and the Sinaloa Cartel. In 2005, Mexican authorities arrested Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar on money laundering charges, but he was later released. Ovidio Guzman Lopez also plays a significant role in his father’s drug trafficking activities.
Noel Salgueiro Nevarez is the head of the Sinaloa Cartel in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, where a bloody turf war has claimed the lives of thousands. Mexican authorities arrested him in October 2011, and he remains in Mexican custody.
Ovidio Limon Sanchez, also currently in Mexican custody, is a major operative for the Sinaloa Cartel in Sinaloa state. He was arrested in November 2011 by Mexican authorities. Additionally, in 2009, a jury in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California returned an indictment charging him with multiple counts of drug trafficking.
These carefully wrapped bundles of marijuana were seized during a major U.S. drug bust in January.
Joaquin Guzman Loera and the Sinaloa Cartel were previously identified by the president as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2001 and 2009, respectively.
The Treasury Department’s action would not have been possible without the support of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “In order to put organizations like the Sinaloa Cartel out of business, we must continue to utilize every tool available to ensure that these criminal groups and their associates cannot exploit the U.S. financial system,” said DEA Chief of Financial Operations John Arvanitis.
“DEA is attacking the Sinaloa Cartel and other organizations at every level like never before, so they are put out of business and their leaders are brought to justice.”
Internationally, OFAC has designated more than 1,000 businesses and individuals linked to 94 drug kingpins since June 2000. 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 up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines under Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.