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Treasury Department announces sanctions on leaders of Mexican cartel La Nueva Familia Michoacana

The criminal group used to traffic methamphetamine, but in recent years expanded its activity to fentanyl production and human trafficking.

Janet Yellen pronunciando un discurso.

(Cordon Press)

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(AFP / VOZ MEDIA) The United States announced Thursday that it is imposing economic sanctions on eight leaders and lieutenants of the Mexican cartel La Nueva Familia Michoacana for trafficking fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine as well as smuggling migrants across the border with Mexico, the Treasury Department said Thursday.

Those sanctioned "have carried out heinous acts, from controlling drug routes to arms trafficking, money laundering and murder," said U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in Atlanta, via a statement distributed to the press prior to her speech.

La Nueva Familia Michoacana used to traffic methamphetamine, but in recent years expanded its activity to the production of fentanyl, which it brings into the United States across the border "via buses, among other modes of transportation," the Treasury Department said in a release. Once inside, it sends the product to cities such as Atlanta; Houston; Dallas; Tulsa, Okla.; Chicago and Charlotte, N.C.

Human smuggling by La Nueva Familia Michoacana

Washington also accuses the cartel of being involved in human smuggling. "For instance, La Nueva Familia Michoacana members stage photos and videos in which individuals appear under interrogation or at risk of being murdered" with which the migrants "falsely claim to United States immigration officials their purported need to seek asylum in the United States," it claimed. In exchange for this, the migrants pay them money.

They also force them to transport drugs and if the migrants "do not comply with the order to sell the drugs provided by La Nueva Familia Michoacana, they are informed that they and their families will be killed," the statement said.

In addition, the cartel, "one of the most powerful and violent" in Mexico, uses tobacco industry workers for drug trafficking, the department added.

In parallel with the OFAC sanctions, the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued a warning with information to help U.S. banks and other financial institutions protect themselves from activities related to the supply of fentanyl.