On August 9, 2023, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the designation of three Sinaloa Cartel members for their roles in the illicit trafficking of fentanyl and other deadly drugs into the United States. Two of the designated individuals are brothers, Alfonso Arzate Garcia and Rene Arzate Garcia, who serve as “plaza bosses” for the Sinaloa Cartel who are known for engaging in violence, including kidnappings and executions, to facilitate enforcement operations concerning the import of large quantities of illicit drugs into the United States. The Arzate Garcia brothers, who are both fugitives, have also been charged in separate indictments with federal drug trafficking offenses in Southern California. The third designee is Rafael Guadalupe Felix Nuñez who once worked as a hitman for the cartel and was also indicted on federal drug trafficking charges in Southern California. He was arrested by Mexican authorities in 2014 and has reportedly become a powerful and violent cartel leader following his escape from a Sinaloa prison in 2017. Felix Nuñez remains a fugitive from justice and reportedly operates from the city of Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, a port city that serves as a North American entry point for illicit drugs from all over the world that are destined for the United States.
The three designees were sanctioned pursuant to Executive Order 14059 for engaging in the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production. As a result of these designations, all property and interests in property of designated persons within the United States or within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons unless authorized by OFAC. US persons may also face civil or criminal penalties for violating EO 14059.