US sanctions top leaders of Mexico’s La Nueva Familia Michoacana cartel, issues new guidance to banks

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned leaders of La Nueva Familia Michoacana, a powerful Mexican drug cartel, for trafficking fentanyl, cocaine, and methamphetamine into the United States. The cartel is also accused of smuggling migrants from Mexico into the U.S.

“La Nueva Familia Michoacana is one of the most powerful and violent cartels in Mexico and has become a priority focus of the Mexican government in recent years,” stated the U.S. Department of Treasury in a press release.

The cartel is notorious for forcing people to enter the U.S. to illegally sell drugs, according to the Treasury.

“If the individuals do not comply with the order to sell the drugs provided by La Nueva Familia Michoacana, they are informed that they and their families will be killed,” the press release said.

In addition to the sanctions, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced a new supplemental advisory to banks to help them identify and report suspicious transactions related to the illicit fentanyl supply chain. Key red flags include:

  • A customer is a Mexican company with little or no online presence and is involved in the import of precursor chemicals and manufacturing equipment used in the synthesis of fentanyl.
  • A customer or counterparty is a chemical or pharmaceutical company in the PRC, Hong Kong, or another jurisdiction with a residential address or a business address shared with other similar businesses.
  • A customer or counterparty has previous drug-related convictions or open-source reporting indicates connections to clandestine lab operations.
  • A counterparty, with no supposed affiliation with the PRC, uses a PRC-based phone number or Internet Protocol (IP) address that is affiliated with the website of a Chinese chemical or pharmaceutical company

“The opioid crisis, and especially the rise of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, has devastated communities and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans,” said Yellen.