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 Treasury Sanctions Major Maritime Drug Trafficker For The Sinaloa Cartel

Action Targets Mayo Zambada Lieutenant Behind Record Maritime Cocaine Seizure Off the Coast of Panama

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of Mexican national Heriberto Zazueta Godoy (a.k.a. Capi Beto) for his material support to the narcotics trafficking activities of the Sinaloa Cartel and one of its leaders, Ismael Zambada Garcia (a.k.a. El Mayo), pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act).  Two other individuals and three entities linked to Zazueta Godoy were also designated.  As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property in the United States, or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the individuals and entities designated today have an interest are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

Zazueta Godoy has been engaged in narcotics trafficking for decades and is now a fugitive from U.S. criminal charges.  In February 2014, he was indicted on drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the Northern District of Illinois, along with Zambada Garcia.  The indictment identifies Zazueta Godoy as a cell leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.  Zazueta Godoy successfully transported significant amounts of cocaine destined for the United States.  In March 2007, a 19-ton shipment of cocaine on the M/V Gatun that he helped to coordinate was seized in international waters off the coast of Panama. 

“Heriberto Zazueta Godoy has been shipping massive amounts of narcotics on the high seas for Zambada Garcia and the Sinaloa Cartel for years, even after he suffered the largest-ever maritime seizure of cocaine in 2007,” said Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Adam J. Szubin.  “Today’s designation, combined with the efforts of our law enforcement partners, sends a clear message that the United States will continue to target and disrupt this violent drug network wherever it operates.”

Zambada Garcia and the Sinaloa Cartel were identified as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2002 and 2009, respectively.  Zambada Garcia is indicted on federal drug trafficking charges in multiple U.S. district courts but remains a fugitive.  The U.S. State Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction. 

Today’s action also targets two of Zazueta Godoy’s relatives because they act on his behalf.  His uncle, Leopoldo Zazueta Gomez, and his brother-in-law, Demetrio Romero Zevada, have played important roles in businesses controlled by Zazueta Godoy for more than a decade.  The entities designated today, because they are owned or controlled by Zazueta Godoy, are two companies based in Mazatlan, Mexico: a seafood company, Comercializadora y Frigorificos de la Perla del Pacifico, and a fishing company, Produccion Pesquera Dona Mariela; and a restaurant based in Guadalajara, Mexico, Taipen, S.A. de C.V.   

Today’s designation was taken in close coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois and the Drug Enforcement Administration.  This action is part of a larger effort to sanction Mexican drug trafficking organizations in collaboration with Mexican authorities. 

Since June 2000 more than 1,500 individuals and entities have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their roles in international narcotics trafficking.  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 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.

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

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