Biden Admin Announces New Sanctions On Top Mexican Fentanyl Trafficker

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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The Biden administration announced sanctions on three Latin American fentanyl traffickers Monday, including a high-level member of the Sinaloa cartel.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (FAC) designated Jose Angel Rivera Zazueta, Nelton Santiso Aguila and Jason Antonio Yang Lopez for their roles in trafficking fentanyl in the United States. Rivera Zazueta, a top level trafficker in the Sinaloa cartel, allegedly operates an international drug trafficking and manufacturing organization which imports precursor chemicals from China and uses them to craft fentanyl which is then shipped into the United States.

The sanctions will prevent any Americans from engaging in transactions with properties or assets belonging to the three men, and the freezing of all assets belonging to them that are in the United States. It’s unclear how many of the men’s assets are in the United States — Rivera Zazueta and Santiso Aguila are Mexican nationals, and Yang Lopez is Guatemalan.

Rivera Zazueta is alleged to have worked with the Chinese company Shanghai Fast-Fine Chemicals, which was designated by the U.S. in December 2021 for shipping precursor chemicals to drug traffickers in Mexico to make fentanyl which is then shipped to the United States. His network is based in Sinaloa and Mexico City and operates globally in the Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa and Australia, according to the Treasury Department.

The State Department also commented on the sanctions Monday, stating they are “part of a whole-of-government effort to disrupt and dismantle the transnational criminal organizations that facilitate the illicit fentanyl supply chain and other illicit drug trafficking.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stated that combatting fentanyl trafficking into the United States is one of his top priorities. (RELATED: Mexican Authorities Capture El Chapo’s Son In Operation Involving 900 Troops)

Drug overdoses killed more than 100,000 Americans last year, reaching record levels driven by synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which are often disguised or mixed in with other drugs that may not typically be lethal. While the State Department has claimed that China is no longer a major source of fentanyl being shipped into the United States after certain steps were taken in recent years, it remains a major source of precursor chemicals used by traffickers like Rivera Zazueta to manufacture the deadly drug elsewhere.