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US slaps sanctions on two Mexican drug cartel men

The United States on Wednesday slapped sanctions on two top cohorts of powerful Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who heads the violent Sinaloa cartel.

Top Sinaloa lieutenant, Damaso Lopez Nunez, and Guzman's father-in-law, Ines Coronel Barreras, were targeted by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

Under the sanctions, US companies and individuals are barred from doing business with them, and any of their assets in the United States are frozen.

"Today, OFAC designated Chapo Guzman's right-hand man and his father-in-law," the office's director Adam Szubin said in a statement.

"Working with our federal law enforcement partners, we will continue to go after the Sinaloa cartel's holdings and support structure, wherever they are located."

Lopez Nunez, alias "El Licenciado," has become one of the top lieutenants for the drugs lord since helping him escape in 2001 from a Mexican prison in 2001. Barreras is the father of Guzman's third wife, former beauty queen Emma Coronel.

During Guzman's decade on the run, the Sinaloa cartel has moved from relatively low-key drug trafficking operations to controlling large swathes of Mexican territory while it wages bloody turf battles with rival gangs.

But in recent months, the United States has been trying to squeeze the drug kingpin's relatives, unveiling a series of sanctions against family members.

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