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Thursday, September 27, 2012

DEA News: Treasury Takes Additional Action Against Sinaloa Cartel

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today announced the designation of Victor Manuel Felix Felix, a close associate of fugitive drug lord Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman Loera, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.  Felix Felix plays a key role in Chapo Guzman’s drug trafficking organization and is the father-in-law of Guzman Loera’s son.  OFAC also designated four other individuals collaborating with Felix Felix and the Sinaloa Cartel.  Today’s action, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

“By exposing additional family members and other affiliates of the Sinaloa Cartel, this action builds on the Treasury Department’s consistent efforts to disrupt Chapo Guzman’s drug trafficking activities,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.  “Treasury applauds the work that U.S. and foreign law enforcement authorities have already taken against the Felix Felix drug trafficking and money laundering organization.”

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Chief of Financial Operations John Arvanitis also stated, “DEA and its partners continue to expose facilitators of Chapo Guzman’s drug and money laundering empire.  Getting to the heart of the Sinaloa Cartel and other drug networks requires an aggressive, sustained attack by law enforcement.  These designations are examples of this effort and we will continue to target Chapo Guzman’s family members and business associates in order to inhibit their criminal operations that have impacted Mexico and other parts of the world.”

Victor Manuel Felix Felix is the head of a narcotics distribution and money laundering organization based in Guadalajara and Mexico City, Mexico.  OFAC is designating Victor Manuel Felix Felix, Jorge Guillermo Gonzalez Cardenas, Oscar Dominguez Villa Diaz, Rigoberto Dias Paniagua, and Gabriela Vazquez Villavicencio for their role in the operations of this criminal organization and material support they provide to Guzman Loera and the Sinaloa Cartel.  In May 2011, a Federal grand jury in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California returned an indictment charging Felix Felix and members of his organization with drug trafficking and money laundering offenses.  The indictment arose out of a DEA investigation linking the Felix Felix organization to the movement of ton quantities of cocaine in Ecuador and Mexico and the laundering of millions of U.S. and Canadian dollars through the international financial system.  In March 2011, law enforcement in Mexico and Ecuador arrested several members of this organization, including Felix Felix, and seized four tons of cocaine.  In July 2011, other members of the Felix Felix organization were arrested in law enforcement actions in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Colombia.  The U.S. is seeking the extradition of Felix Felix and other members of his organization. 

Felix Felix is the father-in law of Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, who is the son of Guzman Loera and Maria Alejandrina Salazar Hernandez.  OFAC designated Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar and his mother, Maria Alejandrina Salazar Hernandez, as specially designated narcotics traffickers in June 2012 for their support to Guzman Loera’s illicit activities.  The President identified Guzman Loera as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2001. 
 
Today’s action would not have been possible without the key support of the DEA.

Internationally, OFAC has designated more than 1,100 businesses and individuals linked to 97 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 pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.

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