U.S. targets Colombians linked to drug cartel

Feb. 14 (UPI) — The U.S. Treasury said Wednesday it’s targeting with sanctions Colombian nationals linked to the drug trafficking group La Oficina de Envigado.

The Office of Foreign Asset Control designated three Colombians — including longtime criminal Javier Garcia Rojas — as “Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers.”

Four Colombian companies owned, controlled or directed by the sanctioned individuals were also designated.

The action bars anyone in the United States from conducting transactions with those on the list.

“Treasury is targeting Colombian nationals, including Javier Garcia Rojas, under the Kingpin Act for their attempts to undermine joint U.S.-Colombian investigations into the criminal activities of La Oficina and Jose Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos,” Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker said.

“We are intent on disrupting the narcotics trafficking and illicit activities of organized crime groups like La Oficina … to dismantle their corrupt networks.”

Wednesday’s designation marks the Treasury’s eighth action against individuals associated with La Oficina.

According to the Treasury report, La Oficina is involved in various illicit activities like money laundering, extortion and murder-for-hire.

Two of those targeted, Javier Garcia Rojas and sister Ruth Garcia Rojas, are purported criminal partners of Jose Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos — who was arrested in September on a U.S. warrant for conspiracy, honest services fraud and obstruction of justice.

Wilton Cesar Hernandez Durango, the third person designated Wednesday, is an ex-Colombian law enforcement official who worked with Javier and Ruth Rojas to disrupt the investigation of Piedrahita Ceballos.

The Treasury said more than 2,000 individuals and entities have been targeted by the Kingpin Act since June 2000.