US sanctions Mexicans linked to powerful Sinaloa drug cartel

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury Department on Wednesday sanctioned a group of people and companies connected to Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, including a sibling involved in the family-run Valenzuela drug trafficking organization.

The sanctions against Juan Francisco Valenzuela Valenzuela and his organization, sometimes called the Valenzuela DTO, freeze all their property and other interests in the U.S. and bar Americans and American companies from doing business with them.

Valenzuela and his siblings Jorge Alberto Valenzuela Valenzuela and Wuendi Yuridia Valenzuela Valenzuela were arrested in 2020 and 2021 as their organization was accused of importing and transporting multi-ton quantities of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine, heroin and fentanyl, from Mexico to the United States.

“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,” Treasury Under Secretary Brian Nelson said. “Starving this network of resources will help deprive the Sinaloa cartel of critical support it needs to traffic its dangerous illicit drugs.”

Nearly 92,000 people in the U.S. died from overdoses involving drugs, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids, in 2020, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Treasury said it also sanctioned Valenzuela DTO members Hector Alfonso Araujo Peralta and Raul Rivas Chaires and three Mexico-based transportation companies accused of completing transactions that contributed to the international proliferation of illicit drugs.

In October 2021, federal drug trafficking indictments were returned in California against Juan Francisco Valenzuela Valenzuela, Peralta and Chaires. Valenzuela and his siblings were in custody and couldn’t be reached for comment. Peralta and Chaires are fugitives.

The Sinaloa cartel’s notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was convicted in 2019 of running an industrial-scale smuggling operation. At his trial, prosecutors said evidence gathered since the late 1980s showed he and his murderous cartel made billions of dollars by smuggling tons of cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana into the U.S.

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