The fentanyl crisis in the United States has put the finances of Mexican cartels in the spotlight. In her first visit to Mexico since she took office in 2021, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has launched a strong message against this drug trafficking network and its money laundering network. “Illicit drug trafficking, particularly fentanyl, has been and will continue to be a key focus of our work. “Drug trafficking undermines the rule of law, threatens the health of our citizens and poses risks to our national and economic security of our country,” he said in a brief message at a work table with Treasury authorities and bankers from Mexico this Wednesday. .
Yellen noted that drug trafficking generates more than $100 billion each year, a river of resources that flows through the American financial system. ”The Treasury Department will continue to use sanctions to isolate drug traffickers and their facilitators from the U.S. and international financial systems,” she said. The official alluded to the handful of sanctions that she had announced a few hours earlier against members of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel and two companies supposedly linked to fentanyl trafficking.
Mexican financial institutions can play an important role in curbing illicit finance tied to fentanyl. It was good to hear from members of the Mexican Banking Association about their work on this issue and other priorities. pic.twitter.com/N95sxvnykF
—Secretary Janet Yellen (@SecYellen) December 7, 2023
The Secretary of the Treasury once again insisted on the threat that fentanyl poses to both sides of the border between Mexico and the United States. ”The illicit acquisition of precursor chemicals by drug cartels in Mexico poses a key challenge to our joint efforts to disrupt the fentanyl trade. Since many of these chemicals have legitimate pharmaceutical uses, it can often be difficult for researchers to detect illicit diversion,” she acknowledged.
During this binational meeting, the Secretary of the Treasury, Rogelio Ramírez de la O, recognized that in the complex network of illicit money flows from drug trafficking, banks are required to exchange information among themselves to detect anomalies and thanked the Treasury Department for its efforts. to combat drug money laundering. “Only through a unified alliance can we protect our common interests and build a safer financial environment for all,” he said.
Fentanyl — an opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine — has caused three-quarters of overdose deaths in the United States, equivalent to more than 110,000 deaths in 2022.
Hours before her meeting with the Secretary of the Treasury, Ramírez de la O, through her social networks, Yellen announced the first blow against the Mexican cartels: the sanction of 15 people and two companies linked to the Beltrán Leyva Cartel for his alleged involvement in trafficking fentanyl and other drugs. “This cartel has been transporting several tons of cocaine and methamphetamine into the United States for decades. “Communities in both Mexico and the United States suffer from violence, addiction and misery generated by the Beltrán Levya Organization and other cartels,” the US official declared this Wednesday.
Among those sanctioned are Óscar Manuel Gastélum Iribe, El Músico, and Pedro Inzunza Noriega, who according to the Treasury Department report make up the current leadership of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel, along with Fausto Isidro Meza Flores. In addition to the 15 sanctioned, the companies Editorial Mercado Ecuestre and Difaculsa are also targeted.
In an intense first day of work, Yellen visited a crime laboratory at the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) and met with authorities from the Bank of Mexico. “On a regular basis, the Bank of Mexico and the Treasury Department have an institutional relationship that includes several important issues for both our commercial relationship. These types of meetings are regular, in this meeting we will discuss the topics on that agenda,” said the governor of the Central Bank, Victoria Rodríguez.
In addition to drug trafficking and the fight against illicit money and finance, Yellen also addressed in this first day of work the strengthening of Mexico’s role in her country’s supply chains with the United States. The former president of the Federal Reserve (Fed ) participated in a roundtable with Mexican business executives about the strength of the relationship between the United States and Mexico and the economic opportunity that continued bilateral cooperation can create for both nations and was present at the launch of the new 20 peso coin that commemorates 200 years of bilateral relations between Mexico and the United States.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS México newsletter and receive all the key information on current events in this country