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 Treasury Expands Sanctions Against the Los Zetas Drug Cartel



Action Targets Spouse of Captured Drug Lord Miguel Trevino Morales


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated Juanita del Carmen Rios Hernandez and her medical supply company Distribuidora e Importadora de Productos Medicos del Norte as specially designated narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).  Juanita del Carmen Rios Hernandez is the spouse of Mexican drug lord Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, a leader of Los Zetas drug cartel, who is jailed in Mexico and faces multiple federal indictments in the United States for narcotics and money laundering violations.  Prior to his arrest, Miguel Trevino Morales, along with his brother, Omar Trevino Morales, directed the vast drug trafficking activities of Los Zetas, one of Mexico’s most violent and powerful drug trafficking organizations.

Juanita del Carmen Rios Hernandez owns and operates Distribuidora e Importadora de Productos Medicos del Norte, a company involved in the importation, distribution, and sale, of medical supplies in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.  Juanita del Carmen Rios Hernandez incorporated this company in 2009 and is its principal shareholder.  Today’s action, pursuant to the Kingpin Act, prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with Juanita del Carmen Rios Hernandez or her company, and freezes any assets she or her company may have under U.S. jurisdiction. 

“OFAC will be relentless in sanctioning Los Zetas’ leadership and associates to weaken and ultimately collapse the financial infrastructure of this ruthless cartel,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.  “This action builds on the consistent efforts of Treasury and our U.S. and Mexican law enforcement partners to target those operating on behalf of Los Zetas.”

The President identified Los Zetas as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Kingpin Act in April 2009.  On July 24, 2011, the President named Los Zetas a significant Transnational Criminal Organization in the Annex to Executive Order 13581 (Blocking Property of Transnational Criminal Organizations).  OFAC designated Los Zetas leaders Miguel and Omar Trevino Morales on July 20, 2009, and March 24, 2010, respectively.  On July 15, 2013, Mexican authorities arrested Miguel Trevino Morales.  Today’s action was undertaken with the support of the Government of Mexico.  

Los Zetas distribute narcotics and launder tens of millions of dollars in illicit proceeds from international drug sales.  Today’s action is OFAC’s fifth designation in a string of actions since last year aimed at Los Zetas leadership.  In 2013, Treasury aggressively targeted Los Zetas with four separate designation actionsOn August 1, 2013, Treasury designated Carolina Fernandez Gonzalez, wife of Zeta boss Omar Trevino Morales, her father, Jesus Fernandez de Luna, and his cattle sales company, Compania Ganadera 5 Manantiales.  Omar Trevino Morales established this company for his wife and her father-in-law as a money laundering front to be used by Los Zetas.  Through this and other actions, Treasury exposed various aspects of Los Zetas activities, including its bulk cash and drug smuggling operations, its international financial operations, and the businesses used by Los Zetas leaders to launder their illicitly gained funds.

Earlier, in 2012, OFAC designated Francisco Colorado Cessa and his oil services company, ADT Petroservicios, for laundering Los Zetas drug proceeds through the purchase of valuable quarter horses for Miguel Trevino Morales and Omar Trevino Morales.  These designations were made in coordination with money laundering charges filed against Colorado Cessa and others in the Western District Court of Texas, Austin Division.  In 2013, Colorado Cessa was convicted and sentenced to a 20-year prison term.  

Internationally, OFAC has designated more than 1,300 individuals and entities linked to 103 drug kingpins since June 2000.  OFAC designations are part of an ongoing effort to apply financial measures against significant foreign narcotics traffickers and their organizations worldwide.  Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties.  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 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.


For a chart relating to today’s actions click here.






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