Treasury Targets International Narcotics Trafficking Network Linked To La Familia Michoacana


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated two individuals and two entities linked to the international drug trafficking organization La Familia Michoacana as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs). Today's designation targets Wenceslao Álvarez Álvarez (a.k.a. Wencho), frontman Ignacio Mejia Gutierrez, and two entities, Mega Empacadora de Frutas, S.A. de C.V. and Importaciones y Exportaciones Nobaro, S.A. de C.V. This action was taken pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), which prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and entities and freezes any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

"For years, Wenceslao Álvarez Álvarez has operated an extensive drug trafficking network running from Colombia to Atlanta, Georgia," said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin. "Today's designation of his financial network builds on OFAC's efforts to combat Mexican drug cartels operating on both sides of the border and deny these organizations access to the U.S. financial system."

Wenceslao Álvarez Álvarez was a significant drug trafficker within La Familia Michoacana, which was identified as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker by President Obama on April 15, 2009. Wenceslao Álvarez Álvarez was an active member of the Gulf Cartel before aligning himself with La Familia Michoacana, and he also had close ties to Los Zetas. He was responsible for trafficking large amounts of cocaine and marijuana from Colombia and Mexico to the United States, with its primary destination being Atlanta, Georgia. His frontman, Ignacio Mejia Gutierrez, managed Mega Empacadora de Frutas S.A. de C.V., a fruit company located in Michoacán, Mexico. The other company designated today, Importaciones y Exportaciones Nobaro S.A. de C.V., is a front company owned and controlled by Wenceslao Álvarez Álvarez. In October 2008, Mexican authorities arrested both Wenceslao Álvarez Álvarez and Ignacio Mejia Gutierrez.

Today's action, taken in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) Mexico Country Office and the Special Operations Division, is part of Treasury's ongoing efforts under the Kingpin Act to apply financial measures against significant foreign narcotics traffickers worldwide. Internationally, OFAC has designated more than 700 individuals and entities linked to 87 drug kingpins since June 2000. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.

Source: US Department of the Treasury