US Treasury cracks down on fentanyl enterprise, sanctions son of “El Chapo” and three other cartel members

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has imposed sanctions on Joaquin Guzman Lopez, son of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and three other high-ranking members of the Sinaloa cartel in an effort to dismantle the faction responsible for running the drug empire.

Joaquin Guzman Lopez/Photo Courtesy U.S. Treasury

Joaquin Guzman Lopez, aged 36, is one of El Chapo’s 12 children and a prominent figure among the sons, nicknamed Los Chapitos, who allegedly wield significant control within the cartel. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) marked him as “designated,” which means his assets are blocked and there are strict restrictions on dealings with U.S. persons. Those who disregard the prohibition may face sanctions.

OFAC also targeted a Mexican company, Sumilab, S.A. de C.V., for providing and shipping precursor chemicals to the cartel and its associates. The Treasury Department stated that all four individuals and the company engaged in activities that contributed to the international spread of illicit drugs or their production.

The significance of this action extends beyond a single enforcement measure. “Today’s action continues to disrupt key nodes of the global illicit fentanyl enterprise, including the producers, suppliers, and transporters,” stated Brian Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Nelson emphasized that Treasury, in close cooperation with the Mexican government and U.S. law enforcement, would persistently utilize its authority to isolate and disrupt Los Chapitos and the Sinaloa Cartel at every opportunity.

Accompanying Guzman Lopez on the list are three other key cartel members: Raymundo Perez Uribe, Saul Paez Lopez, and Mario Esteban Ogazon Sedano. Uribe is alleged to lead a supplier network providing the cartel with essential chemicals for drug production, while Paez Lopez is believed to coordinate drug shipments on behalf of Los Chapitos. Sedano, on the other hand, is accused of procuring chemicals and overseeing illegal laboratories for the cartel.

This is not the first encounter with the law for Joaquin Guzman Lopez, who serves as a vital figure within Los Chapitos and assumes multiple responsibilities within the drug trafficking empire, according to OFAC. He was initially indicted on federal drug trafficking charges in 2018 and has faced numerous charges since then. Likewise, the remaining three members of Los Chapitos have all been indicted on U.S. federal drug trafficking charges across multiple jurisdictions. Last month, three other Los Chapitos associates were hit with multiple charges in the U.S., including fentanyl trafficking, weapons trafficking, money laundering, and witness retaliation. They have denied any involvement.

From left to right: Ivan Archivaldo Guzman SalazarJesus Alfredo Guzman SalazarJoaquin Guzman LopezOvidio Guzman Lopez/Photo Courtesy U.S. Treasury

According to U.S. officials, the Sinaloa cartel bears the weight of smuggling a significant portion of illicit fentanyl into the United States and has thrived since the 1980s. Apart from fentanyl, the cartel is also notorious for trafficking multi-ton quantities of heroin and methamphetamine.

El Chapo, the founder of the Sinaloa cartel, is serving a life sentence in a maximum-security prison in Colorado. In 2019, he was convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering, and weapons-related offenses.