News Column

US Targets Entity, Persons Linked to Mexican Drug Lord

Dec 13, 2012

The U.S. government on Wednesday blacklisted one entity and three individuals linked to Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, a leader of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel.

The Department of Treasury targeted Desarrollos Everest, S.A. de C.V., a real estate development company based in Culiacan, Mexico, alleging it is co-owned by Maria Guadalupe Gastelum Payan, a wife of Moreno who had been added to the black list for her role in her husband's illicit business.

Residencial del Lago, a residential community in Culiacan owned by the company, was targeted as well.

The Treasury also moved against Jorge Enrique Esquerra Esquer, Julio Cesar Estrada Gutierrez, and Carlos Alberto Leon Santiesteban, all Mexican nationals, for their involvement in businesses targeted by Washington.

The action bars American citizens from doing business with the designees and freezes all of their assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

"Since July, OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) has exposed numerous entities in Esparragoza Moreno's corporate network, including gas station companies and real estate development firms operating in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and Jalisco," said Adam Szubin, director of the Treasury's OFAC.

"As we continue to target this organization, we expect to severely disrupt its operations," he said in a statement.

U.S. presidents identified Moreno and the Sinaloa cartel as significant foreign narcotics traffickers in 2003 and 2009 respectively.

Moreno, who has been active in drug trafficking since the 1970s, is wanted in both the U.S. and Mexico, and the U.S. State Department is offering a reward of $5 million for information leading to his arrest, while Mexican authorities are offering 30 million pesos ($2.4 million) for information leading to his capture.

Internationally, the Treasury has designated more than 1,200 businesses and individuals linked to 97 drug kingpins since June 2000.

Source: Copyright Xinhua News Agency - CEIS 2012

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