Thursday, April 18, 2024

New US sanctions announced against Sinaloa Cartel members

The United States government’s crackdown on Mexican drug traffickers continues.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Tuesday announced sanctions against 13 alleged Sinaloa Cartel members and four companies based in Sonora. Several of the designated individuals are members of the same family.

The U.S. government sanctions were “coordinated closely” with the Mexican government. (Rogelio Morales/Cuartoscuro)

Juan Carlos Morgan Huerta, which Treasury identified as a “Nogales, Sonora-based ‘plaza boss’ for the Sinaloa Cartel,” features prominently at the top of a U.S. government chart of the 13 sanctioned individuals.

Treasury said in a statement that Morgan Huerta, also known as “Cacayo,” manages cartel operations in Nogales and oversees the trafficking of multi-tonne quantities of drugs including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and illicit fentanyl from Mexico to the United States.

He was indicted in the U.S. on various drug trafficking charges in 2021, but remains a fugitive, Treasury said. According to the government chart, Morgan Huerta reports to Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García.

“Several adult members of Morgan Huerta’s family were also designated today, including four brothers and an uncle, all Mexican nationals,” Treasury said.

El Mayo Zembada
The Morgan Huerta family are believed to report to Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, the co-founder and a current leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. (Wikimedia)

“… Brothers José Arnoldo Morgan Huerta (a.k.a. “Chachio”), José Luis Morgan Huerta (a.k.a. “Gordo”), Miguel Ángel Morgan Huerta, and Martín Morgan Huerta, as well as their uncle, Óscar Murillo Morgan (a.k.a. “Chino”), each play critical roles in the organization,” the department said.

“For instance, as a former Mexican law enforcement officer, Miguel Ángel Morgan Huerta uses his connections to bribe authorities, while another brother, Martín Morgan Huerta, and their uncle, Óscar Murillo Morgan, maintain sources of supply for illicit drugs. Family members played other key roles including, but not limited to, managing transportation and logistics, negotiating business deals, and laundering illicit drug proceeds.”

Among the other alleged Sinaloa Cartel members who were designated by OFAC on Tuesday are:

  • David Alonso Chavarin Preciado, “who oversees drug trafficking operations in Nogales for his brother-in-law [Juan Carlos] Morgan Huerta.”
  • Jesús Francisco Camacho Porchas
  • Óscar Enrique Moreno Orozco
  • Ramiro Martín Romero Wirichaga
  • Cristian Julian Meneses Ospina, a Colombian national.
Businesses and operators on both sides of the border have been sanctioned by OFAC. (U.S. CBP)

Treasury said that “each of these individuals is involved in various aspects of drug trafficking, transportation logistics, money laundering, or other illicit activities for [Juan Carlos] Morgan Huerta.”

“Of note, Jesus Francisco Camacho Porchas and Óscar Enrique Moreno Orozco are both fugitives from drug charges in the state of Arizona,” it added.

The final two individuals sanctioned by OFAC on Tuesday are:

  • Sergio Isaías Hernández Mazón
  • Álvaro Ramos Acosta
A National Guard agent with bags of confiscated fentanyl.
The sanctions are part of a wider effort to limit the flow of fentanyl and other illicit drugs into the United States. (Guardia Nacional)

Treasury said they are “drug traffickers and businessmen” who collaborate with Juan Carlos Morgan Huerta.

“Although Sergio Isaías Hernández Mazón and Álvaro Ramos Acosta often work alongside Morgan Huerta, they also have their own, established links to high-level Sinaloa Cartel members,” the department said.

OFAC designated the 13 individuals pursuant to a 2021 executive order “for having engaged in, or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production.”

The four companies designated by OFAC are:

  • Habanero’s, a Nogales restaurant.
  • Morgan Golden Mining, located in Hermosillo, Sonora.
  • Comercializadora Villba Stone, a commercial stone company in Nogales.
  • Exportadora del Campos Ramos Acosta, an import/export company in Nogales.
Habaneros restaurant, in Nogales, is one of the businesses sanctioned by OFAC. (

Those companies were sanctioned because they are owned, controlled or directed by, or have acted on behalf of, some of the designated individuals, including Juan Carlos Morgan Huerta.

Treasury said its sanctioning of the 13 individuals and four companies was “coordinated closely” with the Mexican government, including its Financial Intelligence Unit.

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked,” the department said.

The alleged Sinaloa Cartel members designated on Tuesday join a large group of people from the same criminal organization who have already been sanctioned by OFAC.

They include “El Mayo,” various sons of imprisoned drug lord and former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and many alleged members of the “Los Chapitos” sanction of the cartel.

The United States has announced sanctions against Sinaloa Cartel members on several occasions this year, including in September and August.

“Responsible for a significant portion of the illicit fentanyl and other deadly drugs trafficked into the United States, the Sinaloa Cartel is one of the most powerful and pervasive drug trafficking organizations in the world,” Treasury said Tuesday.

Anne Milgram, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said earlier this year that the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel pose “the greatest criminal threat the United States has ever faced.”

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