The U.S. Department of Justice believes that seizing assets from Mexican drug cartels can generally help combat cross-border murder, kidnapping, robbery, etc.  Through the person of the Criminal Division’s Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, the Department of Justice reiterated its desire to seize the illicit assets of illegal narco-traffickers.

Assistant Attorney General Breuer stated at a July 22, 2009 conference, that U.S. asset forfeiture and money laundering laws gave authorities the necessary tools to trace and then seize illicit drug-related assets.  He stressed the importance of disrupting the finances of narco-traffickers because their existence was fueled by large sums of cash.  The Assistant Attorney General also said that prosecutors should conduct financial investigations and add asset forfeiture claims to indictments in their criminal cases.

He additionally stated in a July 9, 2009 hearing before a committee of the U.S.House of Representatives, that: “… seizing the financial infrastructure of the cartels undermines their very existence“.  During the Assistant Attorney General’s July 9 and July 22 statements, he specifically mentioned Operation Xcellerator, which had targeted the Sinaloa drug cartel.  A May 17, 2007 news release also discussed Sinaloa narco-trafficking.  It.claimed that Ismael Zambada Garcia, (as a supposed Sinaloa trafficker), had laundered drug monies via the following financial network:

 (To Fully View This Image, Click On It)

The annual Forbes article “The World’s Billionaires” meanwhile, identified suspected Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín Guzmán Loera, as one of the richest people in the world.  Forbes assigned the alleged boss a rank of 701, on its 2009 list of billionaires.  He and above-mentioned Ismael Zambada Garcia, are however, listed by the U.S. as international drug traffickers under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

This freezes any of their assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction, as discussed by “Interdicting The Assets Of Mexico’s Narco-Traffickers” and my February 11, 2009 “Asset Search News Roundup“.  The two are hunted fugitives and were indicted last month in Brooklyn and Chicago for their alleged leadership of the Sinaola drug cartel.  In their August 6, 2009 Chicago superseding indictment filed in USA v. Zambada−Niebla, et. al.,1:09-cr-00383, prosecutors are seeking asset forfeiture of $938.4 million.

(Edited October 10, 2009)

ImageU.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control

Copyright 2009 Fred L. Abrams