The United States is in the midst of its most severe drug epidemic since the 1980s. Indeed, although the flow of illicit narcotics across the U.S. border with Mexico threatens people in both countries, in the United States, heroin use has reached the level of a public health crisis. And today, Mexican drug trafficking organizations are the primary suppliers of heroin to the United States.
One of the tools that helps the U.S. government to dismantle drug trafficking organizations is the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, also known as the Kingpin Act.The Act allows the U.S. Department of the Treasury to target significant foreign narcotics traffickers, their organizations, and operatives, and deny their access to the U.S. financial system and all trade and transactions involving U.S. companies and individuals.
In late May, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, in close coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration (or DEA), identified Mexican national Jose Luis Ruelas Torres and the entity he heads, the Ruelas Torres drug trafficking organization, as Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers. At the same time, ten associates of the Ruelas Torres organization were tagged as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers.
The Ruelas Torres drug trafficking organization, which is based in Sinaloa, Mexico, is an independent opium and heroin production and distribution enterprise that has been smuggling heroin into the United States for two decades now. The organization is a family affair, with Jose Luis Ruelas Torres’ relatives running various parts of the enterprise, including the production, smuggling, distribution and sales of narcotics, laundering of the proceeds and returning the money to Mexico.
“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 Field Division in Denver, Colorado, one of the main destinations for the Ruelas Torres drug trafficking organization.
“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.”