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US sanctions top Mexican cartel leaders, including suspected assassin known as 'The Doctor'

US sanctions top Mexican cartel leaders, including suspected assassin known as 'The Doctor'
US sanctions top Mexican cartel leaders, including suspected assassin known as 'The Doctor'


U.S. authorities announced economic sanctions Thursday against eight targets affiliated with the Mexican drug cartel La Nueva Familia Michoacana, accused of trafficking fentanyl and human trafficking.

Actions taken by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) aim to stifle a network known to send illicit drugs from Mexico across the U.S. southern border to Dallas and Houston, as well as to other countries. other cities, including Chicago and Atlanta, according to the Treasury. Secretary Janet Yellen.

“The leaders we are targeting have committed heinous acts, from controlling drug routes to arms trafficking to money laundering to murder,” Yellen said, according to prepared remarks ahead of an event. in Atlanta.

“Our sanctions will deprive cartel leaders of their ill-gotten money and make it more difficult for them to bring deadly fentanyl onto our streets.”

The sanctions target the organization's leaders, as well as top lieutenants who Treasury says significantly engaged in and encouraged the illicit drug trade.

Among the targeted leaders is an alleged assassin named Uriel Tabares Martinez. According to the Treasury Department, he is known as “El Medico” (“The Doctor”) for the violent and surgical manner in which he tortures and kills those who cross high-ranking cartel members.

In this October 16, 2019 file photo, a lamp post is marked with the word “Viagra,” the name of the armed wing of the Familia Michoacana cartel, to mark its territory in El Terrero, Michiacán state, Mexico. Marco Ugarte / AP

The group is also known for human trafficking, with La Nueva Familia Michoacana releasing videos in which participants falsely claim to be interrogated in order to obtain U.S. asylum. Participants then pay money to the cartel, officials said in a statement.

“La Nueva Familia Michoacana is one of the most powerful and violent cartels in Mexico and has become a priority of the Mexican government in recent years,” the Treasury Department said in announcing the sanctions.

Last year, the cartel was accused of leaving a severed human leg found hanging from a pedestrian bridge Wednesday in Toluca, just west of Mexico City. At the bridge, the trunk of the body was left in the street below, near the center of the city, accompanied by handwritten signs signed by the Familia Michoacana.

In 2022, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against Familia Michoacana, accusing the cartel of manufacturing “rainbow” fentanyl pills allegedly intended for children.

In addition to OFAC's actions, the U.S. Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued an alert and trends advisory intended to help U.S. financial institutions detect signs of the illicit fentanyl supply chain.

“The opioid crisis, and particularly the rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, has devastated communities and cost hundreds of thousands of American lives,” Secretary Yellen said in a statement Thursday. “Treasury has unique capabilities and expertise to target the financial flows of these cartels that are poisoning our communities, and prosecuting them is a top priority for me and the Department.”

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