Crime and Violence · Organized Crime

Joint U.S.-Mexico operation takes down border fentanyl trafficking network

07/13/2023 (written by vmateoszuniga) –The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the results of a successful Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces operation in the Nogales, Sonora border region. The mission, coordinated by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (FGR) and their counterparts at the DOJ, began in Nogales on June 23, 2023 when five members of a major drug trafficking organization were arrested. The specifics regarding the cartel that the individuals are affiliated with, including the name of the organization, have not been disclosed. In addition to the arrest, authorities confiscated 120,000 fentanyl pills, 15 pounds of methamphetamine, 17 pounds of heroin, 15 pounds of cocaine, as well as three assault rifles and a handgun.

Earlier this year, seven individuals were arrested and indicted by federal grand juries in the United States, all of which were also operating within the same drug trafficking network along the U.S.-Mexico border.  Among the individuals arrested, six resided in Arizona, while one of them lived in Mexico.

In an official DOJ press release, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland referenced the operation in Nogales as an example of the success that can be achieved when both countries collaborate to counter fentanyl trafficking.

U.S. Secretary of State Launches Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threat

Source: U.S. Embassy in China

On July 7, 2023 Secretary of State Anthony Blinken officially launched the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threat in a virtual meeting with key stakeholders. The coalition is a 12-18 month effort that includes 90 countries, including Mexico, as well as relevant non-governmental organizations such as UNODC and INTERPOL.  During his opening remarks, Secretary Blinken shared the coalition’s main goals which include preventing the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of synthetic drunks, detecting threats and patterns, and pursuing an approach that centers public health and harm reduction. Beyond the participation of foreign governments, the coalition includes the medical community, private sector, and scientific communities in an attempt to address the crisis in a holistic manner. 

Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Alicia Bárcena, represented Mexico at the ministerial launch meeting and stated that the threat can only be combated through international cooperation through tangible actions and a public health lens.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Announces Sanctions Against Sinaloa Cartel

On July 12th, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar released a statement announcing a set of financial sanctions against the Sinaloa Cartel and the so-called “Chapitos, the faction led by the sons of Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán. Amb. Salazar announced that the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned 10 individuals and a Mexican corporation with ties to the cartel and Los Chapitos faction as part of the recently launched Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drug Threat. The sanctions are intended to cripple the organization’s financial operations and their ability to purchase fentanyl chemical precursor shipments from China. 

The decision to sanction these individuals and the corporation was organized in collaboration with Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit (Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera). The sanctions will mean that “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 any subsequent dealings that involve any of the property or interests of those blocked individuals must also be reported to the OFAC.


“EU y México desmantelan red de narcotraficantes en ambos lados de la frontera.” El Universal.

” México y EU desmantelan red de fentanilo en Nogales, Sonora; detienen a 12.” Aristegui Noticias.

“México y EU desmantelan red de tráfico de fentanilo en Nogales, Sonora.” Excélsior.

“Cooperation Between United States and Mexican Law Enforcement Leads Significant Actions.” U.S. Department of Justice.

“Treasury Sanctions Key Actors Linked to Mexican Cartels Trafficking Fentanyl.” U.S. Department of the Treasury.,Executive%20Order%20(E.O.)%2014059.

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Twitter account.

“Opening Remarks at a Virtual Ministerial Meeting to Launch the Global Coalition to Address Synthetic Drugs.” U.S. Department of State.

“Global Coalition Frequently Asked Questions.” U.S. Department of State.

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