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US unveils sanctions targeting Sinaloa Cartel fentanyl network

By AFP

March 22, 2024 09:06 PM


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The United States announced sanctions Friday on 15 members of a notorious drug trafficking group and several businesses in Mexico, taking aim at efforts to launder proceeds from fentanyl sales.

The sanctions target a "Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE) scheme to launder millions in illicit fentanyl proceeds for the Sinaloa Cartel," said the US Treasury Department in a statement.

It added that the cartel has a significant role in trafficking illicit fentanyl and other drugs into the United States.

The synthetic opioid, many times more powerful than heroin, has caused an epidemic of addiction in the country -- and is responsible for more than 70,000 overdose deaths per year, according to officials.

"The Biden Administration will continue to use every tool at our disposal to target the violent drug cartels that profit from deadly fentanyl sales in our country," said Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo in a statement.

His announcement came on a trip to Arizona, where he will meet with government officials and private sector counterparts to boost the battle against fentanyl.

In prepared remarks during the trip, Adeyemo said more than five people in Arizona die each day from opioid overdoses, with the bulk of all drug-related deaths now involving fentanyl in Maricopa County.

Cutting traffickers' financial networks out of the US system effectively disrupts "their ability to profit from drug sales in our country," he said.

Among those sanctioned were individuals running the exchange scheme for the Sinaloa Cartel -- such as by using proceeds of illicit fentanyl sales to buy cell phones from US businesses that were then sold in Mexican stores.

Others included fentanyl suppliers and operatives who were said to have helped broker fentanyl deals and recruit drug traffickers for the scheme.

The companies impacted were businesses involved in these individuals' activities.

The sanctions accompany global efforts to curb supply chains behind fentanyl.

US President Joe Biden raised the issue last November with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, and Beijing has boosted enforcement to limit the flow of precursor chemicals for the drug.

In December, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with Mexico's leaders as well.

The latest actions involved coordination with the Mexican government, said the US Treasury.


AFP


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