U.S. Treasury freezes assets of four suspected members of El Chapo’s Mexico drug cartel

A United States Border Patrol vehicle cruises between the primary and secondary fence lines on the Tijuana, Mexico, border in San Diego, Calif. On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced law enforcement action against four suspected members of a Tijuana-based cell for the infamous Sinaloa drug cartel, who are accused of trafficking various narcotics. File Photo by Earl Cryer/UPI

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) — The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Friday identified four suspected members of Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa drug cartel — linking them to the group’s former leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

The department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control accused Eliseo Imperial Castro, Alfonso Lira Sotelo, Javier Lira Sotelo and Alma Delia Lira Sotelo of narcotics trafficking and money laundering to support the Sinaloa cartel.

“As a result of today’s action, all assets of those designated that are within U.S. jurisdiction or in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them,” the department said in a news release.

Castro and Sotelo have been charged in California with narcotics trafficking violations involving methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and money laundering. Castro, authorities say, is a high-ranking member of the cartel’s enforcement group, Los Antrax.

“Eliseo Imperial Castro’s and Alfonso Lira Sotelo’s narcotics trafficking and money laundering activities serve to expand the Sinaloa Cartel’s influence into California,” OFAC Acting Director John E. Smith said. “In conjunction with the Government of Mexico, OFAC will continue to aggressively target narcotics traffickers, the laundering of their illicit proceeds, and those who participate in advancing their criminal activities.”

Also involved in Friday’s actions were the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, and the government of Mexico.

Authorities said the four were involved in a Tijuana-based Sinaloa cell.

Guzman, who had been captured and eluded authorities for years, is awaiting extradition to the United States for prosecution.


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