US Treasury Increases Pressure on Mexican Heroin Traffickers



The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)  increased its pressure on major Mexican heroin traffickers on Tuesday, March 6, by targeting individuals and companies close to the new leadership of the Ruelas Torres drug trafficking organization (Ruelas Torres DTO).

The Treasury imposed additional sanctions on eight Mexican individuals and eight Mexican companies linked to the Sinaloa-based criminal organization, which has been led by Joel Efren Ruelas Ávila since the 2017 death of his father José Luis Ruelas Torres.  This action is taken pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).

As a result of the action, U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions or otherwise dealing with these individuals and companies, and any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen.

“Heroin use is an epidemic in the United States, fueled by smugglers like Joel Efren Ruelas Avila and his drug trafficking organization, who bring deadly drugs across our Southern border and seek to launder illicit proceeds back into Mexico,” said Sigal Mandelker, undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

“OFAC, DEA and the Department of Justice continue to methodically target the individuals and businesses who profit from the sale of this poison.”

The March 6 OFAC action designates Mexican nationals María Monserrat Ávila Rocha, Patricia Lourdes Ruelas Ávila, Jose Maria Ruelas Ávila, Trinidad Ruelas Ávila, Raquel Rivera Guerrero and Cruz Sánchez Medrano, all family members of Joel Efren Ruelas Ávila.

The OFAC action also targets Mexican nationals Pedro Sánchez Medrano and Reyna Isabel Rivera Sandoval, key associates of the Ruelas Torres DTO.

The eight Mexican entities designated include five agricultural companies, Agricola Ruelas S.P.R. de R.I., Alondra Produce, S.P.R. de R.I., Comercializadora Gael 4, S.A. de C.V., Dispersora Gael, S.A. de C.V. and Felixtapia S.C. de R.L. de C.V.; two construction companies, Constructora Joel, S.A. de C.V. and Constructora Vania, S.A. de C.V.; and one clothing boutique, Cruzita Novedades.  All of these entities are based or registered in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

OFAC, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Denver Field Division and Mexican authorities worked closely to execute today’s action.

The Ruelas Torres DTO has been involved in the manufacture and distribution of heroin from Sinaloa, Mexico to the United States for generations.



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