Treasury Secretary Yellen sanctions Mexican drug cartel in anti-fentanyl move

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen | Credits: Getty Images
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen | Credits: Getty Images

Washington, United States: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen imposed punitive sanctions on 15 people and two firms related to a Mexican drug gang on Wednesday while in Mexico City for meetings with officials about measures to combat fentanyl trafficking.

“We cannot end the US opioid crisis and achieve greater security without looking beyond our borders,” she said, according to the reports by the Associated Press.

Yellen came to Mexico this week following the Treasury Department’s announcement of a strike group to target illegal fentanyl trafficking as the United States and China ratchet up efforts to block the transit of the strong opioid and drug-making ingredients into the United States. When President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in November in California, they declared that China would urge chemical companies to reduce supplies of fentanyl-producing components to Latin America.

Individuals and Corporations Tied to the Beltran Leyva Drug Gang

According to the Treasury Department, the latest penalties were imposed on 15 Mexicans and two Mexican-based corporations tied, directly or indirectly, to the Beltran Leyva drug gang. The Biden administration claimed Mexican musicians Oscar Manuel Gastelum Iribe and Pedro Inzunza Noriega, whom the US believes are cartel leaders, were sentenced, along with other members of the gang, including its attorney and family members.

According to the Treasury Department, the cartel has been smuggling tons of cocaine and methamphetamine into the United States for decades and is “heavily involved in the transportation and distribution of deadly drugs, including fentanyl.”

Most Lethal Drug in the United States

Fentanyl is the most lethal drug in the United States, currently. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 71,000 individuals died from synthetic opioid overdoses like fentanyl in 2021, up from over 58,000 in 2020, the AP mentioned. 

Visual Representation of drugs in the United States | Credits Shutterstock

According to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, the opioid crisis cost the United States over $1.5 trillion by 2020.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mexico and China are the leading source nations for fentanyl and fentanyl-related drugs trafficked directly into the United States. China supplies nearly all of the precursor ingredients required to manufacture fentanyl.

According to the reports published by AP, “Drug trafficking organizations generate billions of dollars in illicit proceeds every year,” Yellen said, adding, “They hold some in cash, some in investments, such as in real estate, and, increasingly, though still in small amounts, in digital assets. US financial institutions are vulnerable, such as through exposure to drug trafficking organizations using shell companies.”

The restrictions block access to US property and bank accounts, as well as the ability of the targeted individuals and businesses to conduct business with Americans.