On Feb. 22, the Biden administration announced sanctions against members of the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel for their involvement in trafficking the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl into the United States.
This move comes amid calls to step up efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and drug overdose deaths which now claim the lives of more than 100,000 Americans annually.
The Sinaloa Cartel is one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in the world and has long been a major player in the production and distribution of fentanyl. The cartel operates primarily out of Mexico, but also has a significant presence in the United States and other countries.
Ludim Zamudio Lerma and Luis Alfonso Zamudio Lerma — as well as Ludim’s son, Ludim Zamudio Ibarra — are among a number of individuals who have been named in the sanctions for their role in supplying precursor chemicals to cartel members.
“The precursor chemicals are used in super labs — large-scale drug laboratories that produce 10 or more pounds of an illicit drug per production cycle — to produce illicit fentanyl and methamphetamine for the Sinaloa Cartel,” according to a statement from the Treasury Department.
Treasury officials state that this action is “part of a whole-of-government effort” to counter illegal drug trafficking into the U.S.
“The Zamudio Lerma brothers and their network enable the production of synthetic drugs that devastate American lives, while lining the pockets of Sinaloa Cartel leadership,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at Treasury. “Depriving this network of access and resources will hinder the Sinaloa Cartel’s ability to produce and traffic the illicit drugs it depends on.”
U.S. officials say they coordinated with the Mexican government, along with the FBI field offices in Phoenix, AZ and Guatemala City, as well as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Tucson, AZ.
All property and interests in property of those named in the sanctions must be reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the financial transactions of those named will be blocked, the Treasury Department said.
The sanctions come as part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to combat the opioid epidemic. In addition to cracking down on drug trafficking organizations, the administration has also focused on expanding access to addiction treatment and increasing funding for overdose prevention programs.