WASHINGTON – The
U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today
announced the designation of one entity and three individuals linked to Juan
Jose Esparragoza Moreno (a.k.a. El Azul), a leader of Mexico’s Sinaloa
Today’s action, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin
Designation Act (Kingpin Act), prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial
or commercial transactions with these designees, and also freezes any assets
they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
“Since July, OFAC has exposed numerous entities in
Esparragoza Moreno’s corporate network, including gas station companies and
real estate development firms operating in the Mexican states of Sinaloa and
Jalisco,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.
“As we continue to target this organization, we expect to severely
disrupt its operations.”
The President identified Esparragoza Moreno and the Sinaloa
Cartel as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act
in 2003 and 2009, respectively.
Esparragoza Moreno was indicted on drug trafficking charges in the U.S.
District Court for the Western District of Texas in 2003. He is wanted in both the U.S. and
Mexico. The U.S. State Department
Narcotics Rewards Program is offering a reward of up to $5 million for
information leading to Esparragoza Moreno’s arrest and/or conviction, while
Mexican authorities are offering 30 million pesos for information leading to
his capture. Esparragoza Moreno has been
active in drug trafficking since the 1970s.
Today’s action targets Desarrollos Everest, S.A. de C.V., a
real estate development company based in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico. This company is co-owned by Maria Guadalupe
Gastelum Payan, a wife of Esparragoza Moreno who was previously designated
because she acts on behalf of her husband.
Also targeted today is Residencial del Lago, a residential community
located in Culiacan owned or controlled by Desarrollos Everest, S.A. de C.V.
OFAC has also today designated Mexican individuals Jorge
Enrique Esquerra Esquer, Julio Cesar Estrada Gutierrez, and Carlos Alberto Leon
Santiesteban. Esquerra Esquer and
Estrada Gutierrez both play important roles in the previously-designated
Jalisco companies Grupo Cinjab, S.A. de C.V. (which manages the residential
community Provenza Residencial) and Grupo Impergoza, S.A. de C.V. (which
manages the Provenza Center shopping mall and the La Tijera Parque Industrial
warehouse facility). Carlos Alberto Leon
Santiesteban acts on behalf of the following six previously-designated Sinaloa
gas station companies: Estaciones de
Servicios Canarias, S.A. de C.V., Gasodiesel y Servicios Ancona, S.A. de C.V.,
Gasolinera Alamos Country, S.A. de C.V., Gasolinera y Servicios Villabonita,
S.A. de C.V., Petrobarrancos, S.A. de C.V., and Servicios Chulavista, S.A. de
Today’s action would not have been possible without the
support of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Internationally, OFAC has designated more than 1,200
businesses and individuals linked to 97 drug kingpins since June 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. 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.
To view a chart of the
El Azul organization, click here.