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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, during her first official visit to Mexico since assuming office, revealed new sanctions targeting 15 individuals and two Mexican companies associated with the Beltran Leyva drug cartel. This move is part of a collaborative effort to curb the flow of the deadly opioid fentanyl into the United States.
The sanctions aim to disrupt the operations of the Beltran Leyva Organization, recognized by the Treasury as a significant cocaine and fentanyl supplier to the US. These sanctions, more comprehensive than previous ones, fall under a 2021 executive order expanding the range of drug-related activities for sanctioning.
“We have authorities now that I think make it easier for us to go after middlemen who are not actually trading fentanyl itself but goods like pill presses and pharmaceuticals that aren’t export controlled,” Yellen explained to the press. She emphasized the United States’ commitment to target entities facilitating the drug trade, even if they are not directly involved in narcotics trafficking. Yellen’s agenda in Mexico focuses on enhancing cooperation with the Mexican government and business sector to identify and halt financial flows to drug cartels and their associated entities.
Highlighting the urgency of the matter, Yellen noted that opioid overdoses, particularly from fentanyl, are the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18-49. The Treasury’s recently announced counter-fentanyl “strike force” aims to unite various departmental resources to tackle illicit drug trafficking, including through cryptocurrencies. This initiative aligns with a recent agreement between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping to jointly address the issue of fentanyl precursor chemicals originating from China.
More on the Treasury Secretary’s visit:
Yellen’s visit includes a meeting with Mexico’s finance minister and central bank chief to discuss improved information-sharing strategies. She will also meet Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday.