MEXICO CITY – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen unveiled a new set of sanctions this week, targeting 15 people and two Mexican companies with ties to a notorious drug cartel. The move, announced during Yellen’s first visit to Mexico since assuming office in 2021, is a strategic effort to disrupt the operations of the Beltran Leyva Organization, recognized by the Treasury as “one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in the world.”
“The cartel is producing and transporting fentanyl across the U.S.-Mexico border. The illicit trafficking of fentanyl devastates families and communities and poses a threat to our national security while also undermining public safety in Mexico,” said Yellen during a press conference.
But what exactly is the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO)? According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the BLO is heavily involved in the transportation and distribution of deadly drugs, including fentanyl, to the United States. For more than two decades, it has been one of the largest suppliers of cocaine to the U.S.
“Communities in both Mexico and the United States suffer from the violence, addiction, and misery generated by the Beltrán Levya Organization and other cartels,” said Yellen.
Emily’s Hope has previously covered sanctions against the notorious Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most infamous criminal organizations led by the sons of ‘El Chapo.’ The Beltrán Leyva brothers, founders of BLO, initially collaborated with Sinaloa until their violent split in 2008, triggering a gruesome war. This conflict spanned years as both cartels vied for dominance over drug trafficking routes. Throughout this violence, all the Beltrán Leyva brothers were either captured or killed.
With their absence, a new generation of ruthless drug traffickers emerged, now in command of the present-day BLO.
“The opioid epidemic, as well as the evolving landscape of illicit drug trafficking, has further emboldened the BLO to take advantage of the lucrative market for illicit fentanyl in communities across the United States,” the Treasury Department wrote in a press release.
The sanctions come just days after the White House announced a new fentanyl trafficking strike force. The Counter-Fentanyl Strike Force will bring together personnel, intelligence, expertise, and resources from throughout the Treasury Department to focus on the financial aspect of fentanyl.