In Atlanta to promote fentanyl actions, Yellen announces sanctions against Mexican cartel – Metro US

In Atlanta to promote fentanyl actions, Yellen announces sanctions against Mexican cartel

Senate Treasury
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, center, talks with demonstrators after a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government hearing, Tuesday, June 4, 2024, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In Atlanta to promote the Biden administration’s efforts to quell the import of illegal drugs into the U.S., Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced new sanctions against members of a Mexican drug cartel accused of trafficking fentanyl, cocaine, meth and migrants through the southern border.

Included in the sanctions are eight members of the La Nueva Familia Michoacana drug cartel, a notoriously violent group that wars for territorial control with a slate of other Mexican cartels.

Also Thursday, Yellen issued an advisory to banks to help them identify and report suspicious transactions related to the sale an purchase of chemicals and equipment used to manufacture fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

“Combatting the trafficking of fentanyl is a significant challenge,” she said in a speech at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Atlanta Thursday afternoon. “It will not be solved overnight. But let me be clear: The President and I will do everything we can to combat this crisis.”

La Nueva Familia Michoacana is among Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, dominating big chunks of southern and central Mexico, especially areas known for drug production. It’s known for manufacturing and distributing drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine. The group is among those that have rapidly pushed into the increasingly lucrative migrant smuggling industry amid a historic wave of migration to the U.S.

The cartel is based in the southern state of Guerrero and is often known as “The New Michoacan Family,” to distinguish it from an older gang that was largely expelled from the western state of Michoacan in the mid-2010s.

In 2022, the Biden administration sanctioned leaders of the cartel, known as the Hurtado brothers, for manufacturing “rainbow” fentanyl pills, which the US Treasury Department said was “part of a deliberate effort to drive addiction amongst kids.”

Yellen’s trip also comes after President Joe Biden signed into law the FEND off Fentanyl Act as part of the supplemental spending package signed in April, which among other things, declares that the international trafficking of fentanyl is a national emergency.

Fentanyl, a powerful opioid, is the deadliest drug in the U.S. today. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that drug overdose deaths in the U.S. have increased more than sevenfold from 2015 to 2021.

Mexico and China are the primary sources of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked directly into the U.S., according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is tasked with combating illicit drug trafficking. Nearly all the precursor chemicals that are needed to make fentanyl come from China.

Janetsky contributed to this report from Mexico City.