US Sanctions Mexican International Cartel Kingpin Behind American Opioid Crisis

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The U.S Government has imposed sanctions on Mexican-based drug cartel kingpin Jose Angel Rivera Zazueta and his two associates who are major contributors to the U.S. opioid crisis.

The Department of the Treasury said Rivera Zazueta and his aides - Nelton Santiso Aguila, a Mexican national, and Guatemalan national Jason Antonio Yang Lopez - used precursor chemicals to manufacture and smuggle fentanyl and other illicit synthetic drugs into the United States.

Rivera Zazueta is the leader of a drug manufacturing and trafficking organization based in Culiacan, Sinaloa and Mexico City, Mexico. His network operates on a global scale with nodes in the United States, Mexico, South and Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Rivera Zazueta imports precursor chemicals from China into Mexico, which are then used to manufacture synthetic drugs, including fentanyl, MDMA (ecstasy), crystal methamphetamine, 2C-B, and ketamine.

Rivera Zazueta is responsible for moving large quantities of cocaine from Colombia to the United States and other countries. He has worked closely with Chinese chemical transportation company Shanghai Fast-Fine Chemicals, which has shipped various, often falsely labeled, precursor chemicals to Drug Trafficking Organizations in Mexico for illicit fentanyl production intended for U.S. markets. The Chinese firm has already been designated by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

As a result of the designation, all property of the three individuals in the United States will be blocked and reported to OFAC.

Illicit synthetic drugs pose a grave threat to the health and security of the people of the United States and other countries. Foreign-sourced illicit synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, remain the deadliest drug threat to the American people.

The CDC estimates that more than 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2021, with two-thirds of fatal overdoses involving synthetic opioids.

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