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U.S. Sanctions Major Maritime Drug Trafficker For Sinaloa Cartel

Published on 17 May 2014

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by Office of the Spokesperson


Washington, D.C.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Mexican national Heriberto Zazueta Godoy — a Sinaloa drug cartel lieutenant who was behind a record cocaine shipment seized off the coast of Panama — for supporting the cartel’s drug trafficking operations.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in a May 15 news release, said it is blocking all of Zazueta Godoy’s U.S. property and interests and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with him, under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).

“Today’s designation, combined with the efforts of our law enforcement partners, sends a clear message that the United States will continue to target and disrupt this violent drug network wherever it operates,” said Adam J. Szubin, who directs the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Zazueta Godoy (a.k.a. Capi Beto) was designated for supporting the Sinaloa Cartel and one of its leaders, Ismael Zambada Garcia (a.k.a. El Mayo). Two other individuals and three entities linked to Zazueta Godoy were also designated, blocking their assets as well.

Zazueta Godoy has been engaged in narcotics trafficking for decades and is now a fugitive from U.S. criminal charges, the Treasury Department said. In February 2014, he was indicted on drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the Northern District of Illinois, along with Zambada Garcia. The indictment identifies Zazueta Godoy as a Sinaloa Cartel cell leader who successfully transported significant amounts of cocaine destined for the United States. In March 2007, a 19-metric-ton shipment of cocaine on the motor vessel Gatun that he helped coordinate was seized in international waters off the coast of Panama.

“Heriberto Zazueta Godoy has been shipping massive amounts of narcotics on the high seas for Zambada Garcia and the Sinaloa Cartel for years, even after he suffered the largest-ever maritime seizure of cocaine in 2007,” said Szubin.

Zambada Garcia and the Sinaloa Cartel were identified under the Kingpin Act as significant foreign narcotics traffickers in 2002 and 2009, respectively. Zambada Garcia is indicted on federal drug trafficking charges in multiple U.S. district courts but remains a fugitive. The U.S. State Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction.

The May 15 action also targets two of Zazueta Godoy’s relatives because they act on his behalf. His uncle, Leopoldo Zazueta Gomez, and his brother-in-law, Demetrio Romero Zevada, have played important roles in businesses that he controls for more than a decade. The entities designated, which Zazueta Godoy owns or controls, are two companies based in Mazatlan, Mexico — the seafood company Comercializadora y Frigorificos de la Perla del Pacifico and the fishing company Producción Pesquera Doña Mariela — and a restaurant, Taipen, S.A. de C.V., that is based in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The U.S. action is part of a larger effort to sanction Mexican drug trafficking organizations in collaboration with Mexican authorities.

Since June 2000, more than 1,500 individuals and entities have been named under the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Individual violators face civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation and more severe criminal penalties. Corporate officers face penalties of up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million, while criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals face fines and up to 10 years in prison.

A chart relating to these designations (PDF, 129KB) can be found on the Treasury Department website.



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Posted 2014-05-17 11:02:00