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Sunday, December 21, 2014

DOT SANCTIONS MOTHER-IN-LAW OF DRUG LORD TO RECOUP HIDDEN ASSETS

FROM:   U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT 
Treasury Sanctions Mother-in-Law of Sinaloa Cartel Drug Lord “El Azul”
Action Exposes Sinaloa Cartel Leader’s Attempts to Hide Assets

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Alejandra Araujo Uriarte, a Mexican national, as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Araujo Uriarte was designated for her role in holding and concealing assets in her name on behalf of her son-in-law Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno (a.k.a. “El Azul”), a leader of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.  As a result of today’s action, allassets of those designated that are based in the United States or in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

“Araujo Uriarte has knowingly concealed the assets of an influential drug lord,” said Adam J. Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control.  “As the third action that we have taken against the family accomplices of Esparragoza Moreno, today’s designation builds on our unrelenting efforts to disrupt the Sinaloa Cartel and other narcotics organizations around the world.”

The Treasury Department previously designated family members of Esparragoza Moreno on July 24, 2012 and September 30, 2013.  The first action designated seven family members who act on behalf of Esparragoza Moreno, including his wife, Ofelia Monzon Araujo.  Shortly thereafter, Monzon Araujo began to transfer land in Culiacan, Sinaloa to her mother, Alejandra Araujo Uriarte, in an attempt to hide these assets and evade sanctions.  This includes land occupied by designated gasoline retailers that are controlled by Esparragoza Moreno.  The Treasury Department previously exposed attempts by these gasoline retailers to evade sanctions by changing their names.

The United States identified Esparragoza Moreno and the Sinaloa Cartel as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2003 and 2009, respectively.  Esparragoza Moreno was indicted on drug trafficking charges in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in 2003.  He is wanted in both the United States and Mexico; the U.S. State Department Narcotics Rewards Program is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction, while Mexican authorities are offering 30 million pesos for information leading to his capture.  Esparragoza Moreno has been active in drug trafficking since the 1970s.

Today’s designation was taken in close coordination with U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, and is part of a larger effort by the Treasury Department to collaborate with Mexican authorities in the sanctioning of Mexican drug trafficking organizations.

Since June 2000, more than 1,700 entities and individuals have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking.  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 of up to $5 million.  Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could 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.