The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced Thursday the designation of a key Sinaloa Cartel lieutenant, Martin Guadencio Avendano Ojeda, his two brothers and two companies located in Mexico pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).
“Today’s action aims to disrupt the ability of Martin Avendano Ojeda’s drug distribution network and its money laundering businesses to generate funds for the Sinaloa Cartel,” said OFAC Director Adam Szubin. “These actions build on Treasury’s ongoing efforts to identify and disrupt the financial pathways exploited by the Sinaloa Cartel, Ismael Zambada Garcia, and his lieutenants.”
Martin Guadencio Avendano Ojeda controls a money laundering and narcotics distribution network based in Culiacan, Mexico, that is supplied by Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael Zambada Garcia and facilitates the importation of narcotics from Mexico into the U.S. with the assistance of his brothers, Hector Manuel and Sergio Avendano Ojeda, who are also designated today.
Ismael Zambada Garcia and the Sinaloa Cartel were previously identified by the President as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2002 and 2009, respectively.
Treasury also designated Autos Mini, a car dealership in Ensenada, Baja California owned by Martin Guadencio Avendano Ojeda, and Autodromo Culiacan, an auto race track located in Culiacan, Sinaloa owned by Martin and his brother Hector Manuel Avendano Ojeda.
As a result of today’s action, U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in transactions with the designees and any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen. This action was supported by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service and is the latest in ongoing efforts by OFAC to apply financial pressure to Mexican drug trafficking organizations and to pursue those who profit from drug trafficking.
“DEA and our partners, to include the Government of Mexico, continue to pursue the highest levels of the Sinaloa Cartel, as well as their business associates, financial backers, and those who profit from drug trafficking, violence and corruption,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “The Cartel amasses a fortune in illicit assets by trafficking drugs to the United States. These Treasury sanctions represent yet another targeted strike against Cartel leadership and the financial networks that fuel the activities of the Sinaloa Cartel.”
Internationally, OFAC has designated more than 1,000 businesses and individuals linked to 94 drug kingpins since June 2000. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.