U.S. President Barack Obama's administration on Wednesday announced sanction against three drugs cartels and named an official to deal with spillover of drug violence at the U.S.-Mexico border, one day before the president's visit to the neighboring country.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the groups, the SinaloaCartel, Los Zetas, and La Familia Michoacana, would be censured under legislation known as the 1999 Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which allows the Treasury Department to block or seize any assets under U.S. jurisdiction from the cartels or anyone who is acting on their behalf.
"Today's action underscores the U.S. government's support for President (Felipe) Calderon's courageous attack on the cartels and our attempts to attack the financial underpinnings of Mexico's cartels, believed to generate billions of dollars annually," Gibbs said.
As another initiative to crack down on drug cartels operating at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Obama administration announced the nomination of a top official in charge of the border security.
During a visit to Texas, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that former federal prosecutor and border enforcement expert Alan Bersin was named as an Assistant Secretary of State and Special Representative for Border Affairs.
"The Department of Homeland Security has taken strong action to put the right resources in key places along the Southwest border," she said in the announcement. "Thanks to additional technology and personnel along the border, we are getting better intelligence leading to drug and weapons seizures and better identification of illegal and criminal aliens."
The announcement came on the eve of Obama's visit to Mexico, where he was due to meet Calderon in Mexico City on Thursday, to discuss issues including drugs gangs and illegal immigrants.
Official statistics show that more than 6,400 people have died since last year in drug-related violence in Mexico.