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US sanctions Mexican cartel on fentanyl, Yellen issues new guidance to banks

By Thomson Reuters Jun 20, 2024 | 9:03 AM

ATLANTA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday announced new sanctions on leaders of a Mexican drug cartel involved in trafficking fentanyl and its pre-cursor chemicals into the U.S. as part of a broader push to try to stem the flow of the deadly synthetic opioid.

Yellen announced the sanctions against eight leaders and eight affiliates of the La Nueva Familia Michoacana cartel during a trip to Georgia, a key battleground state in the Nov. 5 presidential election.

In addition to fentanyl, Treasury said La Nueva Familia Michoacana trafficks cocaine and methamphetamines into the U.S. and smuggles migrants across the southern U.S. border.

The sanctions cut the targets off from the dollar-based financial system and freeze any assets that they may have in the U.S. or in U.S.-based institutions.

Yellen also announced a new supplemental advisory to banks from the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to help them identify and report suspicious transactions related to procurements of fentanyl precursor chemicals and manufacturing equipment by Mexico-based criminal organizations from China.

Reporting of such transactions will help FinCEN and partner agencies track down traffickers, Yellen said, calling it an “important step” in the fight against fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

“This allows us to follow the money behind the illicit fentanyl supply chain and go after the criminals perpetrating and profiting off of the opioid epidemic,” Yellen said in prepared remarks to be delivered at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Atlanta.

Yellen also called for increased cooperation with Mexico on curbing trafficking of fentanyl and its precursor chemicals, and said the Biden administration would emphasize this in its engagement with Mexican President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum.

(Reporting by David Lawder in Washington and Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Andrea Ricci)