Feds Freeze Assets of Mexican Heroin Trafficking Organization

April 23, 2009 file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent checks traffic in Laredo, Texas, at the border crossing into Mexico.
AP Photo/FILE/LM Otero

The Department of the Treasury has frozen the U.S.-based assets of the Mexican Laredo Drug Trafficking Organization, a major trafficker of heroin to the U.S.

“The Laredo Drug Trafficking Organization is responsible for contributing to the drug epidemic and troubling rise of heroin abuse in this country,” John E. Smith, the Acting Director of the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), says in a statement.

“Treasury is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to dismantle criminal organizations that facilitate the flow of illicit drugs into the United States,” he added.

Laredo DTO’s manufactured, imported and distributed heroin from Mexico to cities across the U.S. for at least eight years, according to the Treasury Department.

Last year the Justice Department indicted the Laredo DTO’s leaders, Job and Ismael Laredo Donjuan, and more than 30 others on federal drug trafficking, criminal enterprise, and money laundering charges in connection with the groups’ multi-state trafficking operation.

OFC froze the group’s assets pursuant to the the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) by designating the group, its leaders and five additional Mexican nationals supportive of Laredo DTO as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers.

In addition to freezing their assets, the Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers label also prohibits U.S. citizens from engaging in transactions with the group.

According to the Treasury Department, more than 1,800 entities and individuals have been named under the Kingpin Act for international drug trafficking since 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,” the Treasury Department said a release. “Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines 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.”