US Sanctions El Chapo’s Son; DEA Nabs over 3,300 Suspected Cartel Members
The United States has targeted Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera’s family once again, this time sanctioning one of his children and three Sinaloa Cartel members, along with two Mexican companies, the Treasury Department said on Tuesday.
Joaquín Guzmán López, known along with his brothers as the “Chapitos,” is believed to be managing super labs and trafficking illicit drugs into the U.S.
The other three members are accused of supporting the cartel with precursor chemicals and drug shipments.
The companies, Sumilab, a chemical and lab equipment company, and Urbanizacion, Inmobiliaria y Construccion de Obras, S.A. de C.V., a real estate business, were designated for providing and shipping precursor chemicals to Sinaloa Cartel members and associates.
The move comes on the heels of a year-long operation that resulted in the arrest of 3,337 individuals suspected of being part of the distribution networks of the Sinaloa and Jalisco drug cartels.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said that since it launched operation Last Mile in May last year, officers have seized nearly 44 million fentanyl pills, more than three tonnes of fentanyl powder, nearly 41 tonnes of methamphetamine, 8,497 firearms, and over US$100 million.
The amount of fentanyl powder and pills seized is enough to produce over 193 million fatal doses, which could be lethal to the population of an entire country or several countries combined.
The Sinaloa and Jalisco cartels “use multi-city distribution networks, violent local street gangs, and individual dealers across the US to flood American communities with fentanyl and methamphetamine,” said Anne Melissa Milgram, the Administrator of the DEA.
Out of the 1,436 investigations, over 1,100 involved social media applications and encrypted communications platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Wire, and Wickr.
According to Milgram, it is “alarming” that these groups are using social media platforms to coordinate their operations and reach out to people.
The DEA believes the groups get precursor chemicals from China and use clandestine labs in Mexico to manufacture fentanyl into powder and pills. They use violence to maintain control over the operations and smuggle fentanyl into the U.S. via land, sea, air, and underground routes to distribute the drugs across the country.
Later, the money they earn travels back to Mexico, where it is laundered in various ways.
Last month, the DEA and its federal partners announced the indictment of 28 members and associates of the Sinaloa Cartel, including its leaders known as “Chapitos,” who are operating in Mexico, China, and Central America.