Plaza boss and adult relatives targeted in collaboration with Government of Mexico
Washington — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned 13 Sinaloa Cartel members—several of whom are fugitives—and four Sonora, Mexico-based entities. Responsible for a significant portion of the illicit fentanyl and other deadly drugs trafficked into the United States, the Sinaloa Cartel is one of the most powerful and pervasive drug trafficking organizations in the world. This action was coordinated closely with the Government of Mexico, including La Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera (UIF), Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit.
“The United States will aggressively pursue all who are complicit operators and facilitators of these illicit fentanyl networks,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “Treasury will continue to use its authorities to expose and isolate those who profit from deadly fentanyl sales in the United States.”
This week, the White House is hosting representatives from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), alongside its partners from Mexico’s UIF and Canada’s Financial Transaction and Reports Analysis Centre, at the 7th North American Drug Dialogue (NADD) in Washington, D.C. The groups will review progress related to their ongoing collaborative efforts in the NADD Illicit Finance Working Group, designed to confront illicit financial activities associated with the manufacture and trafficking of illicit drugs, including fentanyl.
As a Nogales, Sonora-based “plaza boss” for the Sinaloa Cartel, Juan Carlos Morgan Huerta (a.k.a. “Cacayo”) (Morgan Huerta) manages cartel operations in Nogales and oversees the trafficking of multi-ton quantities of drugs—to include cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and illicit fentanyl—from Mexico into the United States. Morgan Huerta utilizes tractor trailers, among other methods of concealment, to transport drugs across the border. In April 2021, Morgan Huerta was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on various drug trafficking charges linked to fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. To date, he is a fugitive.
Several adult members of Morgan Huerta’s family were also designated today, including four brothers and an uncle, all Mexican nationals. Specifically, brothers Jose Arnoldo Morgan Huerta (a.k.a. “Chachio”), Jose Luis Morgan Huerta (a.k.a. “Gordo”), Miguel Angel Morgan Huerta, and Martin Morgan Huerta, as well as their uncle, Oscar Murillo Morgan (a.k.a. “Chino”), each play critical roles in the organization. For instance, as a former Mexican law enforcement officer, Miguel Angel Morgan Huerta uses his connections to bribe authorities, while another brother, Martin Morgan Huerta, and their uncle, Oscar Murillo Morgan, maintain sources of supply for illicit drugs. Family members played other key roles including, but not limited to, managing transportation and logistics, negotiating business deals, and laundering illicit drug proceeds.
Additional members of the organization designated today include David Alonso Chavarin Preciado (a.k.a. “Chava”), who oversees drug trafficking operations in Nogales for his brother in-law Morgan Huerta, as well as Jesus Francisco Camacho Porchas (a.k.a. “Pilo”), Oscar Enrique Moreno Orozco (a.k.a. “Senry”), and Ramiro Martin Romero Wirichaga, all Mexican nationals. Furthermore, Cristian Julian Meneses Ospina, a Colombian national, also works for Morgan Huerta. Each of these individuals is involved in various aspects of drug trafficking, transportation logistics, money laundering, or other illicit activities for Morgan Huerta. Of note, Jesus Francisco Camacho Porchas and Oscar Enrique Moreno Orozco are both fugitives from drug charges in the state of Arizona.
In addition to working with another Nogales-based plaza boss who was previously designated by OFAC, Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela, Morgan Huerta collaborates with other Sinaloa Cartel drug traffickers and businessmen in Sonora, including Sergio Isaias Hernandez Mazon (a.k.a. “Chavelo”) and Alvaro Ramos Acosta (a.k.a. “Alvaro Arroz Ramos”), both Mexican nationals. Although Sergio Isaias Hernandez Mazon and Alvaro Ramos Acosta often work alongside Morgan Huerta, they also have their own, established links to high-level Sinaloa Cartel members.
OFAC designated Juan Carlos Morgan Huerta, Jose Arnoldo Morgan Huerta, Jose Luis Morgan Huerta, Miguel Angel Morgan Huerta, Martin Morgan Huerta, Oscar Murillo Morgan, David Alonso Chavarin Preciado, Jesus Francisco Camacho Porchas, Oscar Enrique Moreno Orozco, Cristian Julian Meneses Ospina, Ramiro Martin Romero Wirichaga, Sergio Isaias Hernandez Mazon, and Alvaro Ramos Acosta pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14059 for having engaged in, or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production.
OFAC also designated four Mexico-based companies, including a Nogales, Sonora-based restaurant, Conceptos Gastronomicos de Sonora, S. de R.L. de C.V. (a.k.a. “Habanero’s”), and a mining company, Morgan Golden Mining, S.A. de C.V., which is based in Hermosillo, Sonora. OFAC designated the restaurant for being owned, controlled, or directed by, or having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Morgan Huerta; whereas OFAC designated the mining company for being owned, controlled, or directed by, or having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Morgan Huerta and his brother, Jose Luis Morgan Huerta. The other two businesses designated today include a commercial stone company, Comercializadora Villba Stone, S.A. de C.V., and an import/export company, Exportadora del Campos Ramos Acosta, S. de R.L. de C.V. OFAC designated these businesses, both of which are in Nogales, for being owned, controlled, or directed by, or having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Sergio Isaias Hernandez Mazon and Alvaro Ramos Acosta, respectively.
Today’s action would not have been possible if not for ongoing collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Tucson – Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Phoenix Field Division Group 16 DEALERS, the DEA Nogales District Office Group 51, the DEA Mexico City Country Office, and Homeland Security Investigations’ Tucson Office.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated individuals and entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. U.S. persons may face civil or criminal penalties for violations of E.O. 14059.
Today’s action is part of a whole-of-government effort to counter the global threat posed by the trafficking of illicit drugs into the United States that is causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans annually, as well as countless more non-fatal overdoses. This action demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s strengthened approach to saving lives by disrupting the trafficking of illicit fentanyl and its precursors into American communities. These efforts are part of the Administration’s comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to tackle the nation’s overdose epidemic, which goes after two key drivers of this crisis: untreated addiction and the drug trafficking profits that fuel it. Today’s action will help strengthen public safety by disrupting the illicit drug production and trafficking pipeline that profits by harming Americans. As a key part of the President’s Unity Agenda, the Administration has also made historic investments in critical public health interventions including research, prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.
OFAC, in coordination with its U.S. Government partners and foreign counterparts, will continue to target and pursue accountability for foreign illicit drug actors. In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals and entities designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here.