U.S. targets Mexican citizens, firms for money laundering

16:22, June 10, 2010      

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The U.S. Treasury Department has added two Mexican individuals and two Mexican entities to its blacklist of those barred from using U.S. bank accounts because of money laundering charges, the U.S. embassy in Mexico said Wednesday.

The embassy said in a statement that Wenceslao Alvarez Alvarez and his business partner Ignacio Mejia Gutierrez had laundered money for drug smuggling group La Familia Michoacana for years.

Alvarez was arrested by Mexican authorities in 2008 and Gutierrez was detained in 2009.

"For many years Alvarez has been a player in a broad drug trafficking network running from Colombia to Atlanta, Georgia," said Adam J. Szubin, director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). "Today's designation is part of the OFAC's efforts to fight Mexican drug cartels operating on both sides of the border."

The two firms, Mega Empacadora de Frutas and Importaciones y Exportaciones Nobaro, managed by Alvarez and Gutierrez, are both linked to the same smuggling group. The firms' assets in the United States were automatically frozen.

All U.S. citizens are barred from financial transactions with the money launderers.

The OFAC has blacklisted 700 people and entities linked to 87 leading smugglers since 2000. In March, it added 54 known drug trafficking cartel members to their lists in just one day.

Mexico and the United States have promised closer cooperation on issues including money laundering and gun smuggling.



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