The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, has designated three people with ties to the head of the Sinaloa Cartel as narcotics traffickers under the Kingpin Act. Americans are prohibited from conducting financial or commercial transactions with the designees and any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen.
OFAC named Mexican nationals Oscar Alvarez Zepeda and Joel Valdez Benites, and Colombian national Carlos Mario Torres Hoyos, saying they provide “material support to the drug trafficking activities” of Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman Loera, also known as Chapo Guzman.
“Today marks the fourth time in the past year that OFAC has targeted and exposed the support structures of the organization led by Chapo Guzman” said Adam Szubin, director of OFAC in a statement.
The Treasury Department said all three traffickers have ties to Colombian drug trafficker Jorge Milton Cifuentes Villa, who was designated under the Kingpin Act in February 2011 along with 70 other individuals and entities. Cifuentes Villa was indicted on drug trafficking charges in New York federal court, and earlier charged in Florida federal court with drug trafficking and money laundering.
The most recent designations are part of an ongoing effort to apply financial measures against foreign narcotics traffickers and their organizations worldwide. The Treasury Department has designated more than 1,000 individuals and entities under the Kingpin Act since June 2000.
Penalties for violating the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1,000,075,000 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 face up to 10 years in prison and fines for violating the Kingpin Act.
The U.S. Treasury Department “will continue to work with law enforcement and foreign counterparts,” said Mr. Szubin, “to help disrupt, and eventually dismantle, Chap Guzman’s criminal empire.”