Money-Laundering Cell of Mexican Drug Cartels Identified.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has identified 34 companies and individuals associated with two Mexican drug cartels, the Arellano Felix Organization and the Arriola Marquez Organization, under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (commonly known as the Kingpin Act).

In a July 12 press release, the Treasury Department announced the designation of these 34 entities and persons, and noted that both the Arellano Felix Organization and the Arriola Marquez Organization were named previously by President Bush as Mexican drug kingpins, as defined by the Kingpin Act.

Barbara Hammerle, acting director of OFAC, said, "Our designation process exposes the financial nerve center of Mexican drug cartels, thereby encumbering efforts to bankroll illicit proceeds."

OFAC credited "close coordination with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a key factor" in the designation, and officials from both agencies emphasized the importance of working together to combat organized crime. "DEA and its OFAC partners are committed to bringing traffickers -- from the kingpin to the runner -- to justice, while at the same time stripping them of the money and assets they need to carry on their illicit operations," said Donald Semesky, chief of financial operations for the DEA.

The designated entities and individuals "are subject to the economic sanctions imposed against narcotics traffickers under the Kingpin Act," OFAC explained. "Today's action by OFAC freezes any assets found in the United States and prohibits all financial and commercial transactions between the designees and any U.S. person."

Moreover, "the action taken today brings the total number designated under the Kingpin Act to 270: 62 drug kingpins worldwide, and 79 companies and 129 other individuals in Mexico, Colombia, Jamaica, Peru, Thailand, and St. Kitts," said OFAC.

The full text of the Treasury Department announcement is available on the department"s Web site, as are a complete list of the individuals and entities designated on July 12 and an organization chart of the money-laundering cell.

[Source: Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, 12Jul06]

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