WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has handed down stiff sanctions against several people and trucking companies connected to Mexican drug cartels.
According to a news release issued on Wednesday, Oct. 19, Juan Francisco Valenzuela Valenzuela, who is associated with the Valenzuela Drug Trafficking Organization (Valenzuela DTO), operated within a “sophisticated network that became invaluable to Sinaloa Cartel leadership. Named after the family who facilitated its rise to prominence, the Valenzuela DTO was run by siblings Jorge Alberto, Wuendi Yuridia and Juan Francisco Valenzuela Valenzuela in recent years.”
Following the arrests of Jorge Alberto and Wuendi Yuridia by U.S. authorities in October 2020 and November 2021, respectively, “Juan Francisco Valenzuela Valenzuela is the last remaining sibling involved in the Valenzuela DTO’s operations in Mexico. Operating under the umbrella of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Valenzuela DTO is involved in the importation and transport of multi-ton quantities of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl, from Mexico to the United States,” according to the news release.
“The Valenzuela drug trafficking organization fuels the ongoing drug epidemic we face in the United States which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans annually,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “Starving this network of resources will help deprive the Sinaloa Cartel of critical support it needs to traffic its dangerous illicit drugs.”
In addition to the Valenzuela DTO and Valenzuela, two Mexican nationals and Valenzuela DTO members — Hector Alfonso Araujo Peralta and Raul Rivas Chaires — along with three Mexico-based transportation companies — Arfel Transportadora Cool Logistic, S.A. de C.V., Servicios de Transporte Maruha, S.A. de C.V. and Transportes Refrigerados Pandas Trucking, S.A. de C.V. — were also designated “for having engaged in, or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production,” the news release stated.
On Oct. 19, 2021, federal drug trafficking indictments were returned in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against Valenzuela, Hector Alfonso Araujo Peralta and Raul Rivas Chaires. To date, these individuals are fugitives from these charges.
OFAC said that as a result of Wednesday’s action, “all property and interests in property of the designated individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.”
In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50% or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.
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