WASHINGTON, D.C. – The DEA and U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today announced the designation of Colombian national Jorge Milton Cifuentes Villa (a.k.a. Elkin de Jesus Lopez Salazar) and more than 70 individuals and entities in Cifuentes Villa’s drug trafficking and money laundering organization as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs). This action came as a result of DEA investigations.
Today’s action, taken pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these entities and individuals and freezes any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
“DEA and our Colombian partners vigorously pursued this complex investigation targeting the Cifuentes enterprise, which hid their massive cocaine trafficking schemes behind a facade of numerous businesses, corporations and holdings,” DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said. “The Cifuentes organization amassed a fortune in illicit assets by supplying metric-ton quantities of cocaine to the Mexican Sinaloa cartel. These Treasury sanctions represent the first salvo against the Cifuentes family, and reflect DEA’s global efforts to disrupt the cocaine pipeline between Colombian traffickers, Mexican cartels and the United States. Today’s actions severely curtail the Cifuentes organization’s ability to use legitimate commerce to mask their illicit money laundering activities and operate their international criminal network.”
“Targeting the corporate empires of narcotics traffickers is at the core of our efforts to degrade these dangerous organizations,” said OFAC director Adam Szubin. “By designating Cifuentes Villa and his extensive network – operating across a variety of economic sectors in six countries – OFAC is denying him the opportunity to profit from these entities or use them to launder the proceeds from his narcotics trafficking activities. Going forward, Cifuentes Villa will no longer be able to masquerade as a legitimate businessman while supplying cocaine to the Sinaloa Cartel.”
Jorge Milton Cifuentes Villa, a native Colombian who also holds Mexican citizenship, leads a drug trafficking organization with operations in Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Panama and Spain that is closely allied with the Sinaloa Cartel headed by Mexican national Joaquin Guzman Loera (El Chapo). Guzman Loera and the Sinaloa Cartel were identified by the President as Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2001 and 2009, respectively. In November 2010, Cifuentes Villa and Guzman Loera were indicted on drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Alfredo Alvarez Zepeda (a.k.a. Gabino Ontiveros Rios), who acts as a drug trafficking liaison between the Cifuentes Villa organization and Guzman Loera, and key criminal associates who provide material support to Cifuentes Villa’s drug trafficking activities, Jaime Alberto Roll Cifuentes, Winston Nicholls Eastman, David Gomez Ortiz, and Shimon Yelinek were also designated today.
Juan Pablo Antonio Londono Ramirez, a business partner of Cifuentes Villa, is among the other individuals designated today. Londono Ramirez owns stored value card company Monedeux with locations in Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Spain, and the United States.
Multiple family members of Cifuentes Villa were also designated today for materially supporting his drug trafficking activities and/or for helping to manage his companies. Two of today’s designees, Dolly de Jesus Cifuentes Villa and Hildebrando Alexander Cifuentes Villa, are also charged with drug trafficking and money laundering in the Southern District of Florida in the same indictment as Jorge Milton Cifuentes Villa and Guzman Loera.
Cifuentes Villa owns or controls 15 companies operating in Colombia, Mexico, and Ecuador that are involved in a variety of economic sectors, ranging from Linea Aerea Pueblos Amazonicos S.A.S., a recently-created airline operating in eastern Colombia, to Red Mundial Inmobiliaria, S.A. de C.V., a real estate company located near Mexico City, to Gestores del Ecuador Gestorum S.A., a consulting company located in Quito, Ecuador.
OFAC worked closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigations Division on this investigation. Today’s action is part of ongoing efforts pursuant to the Kingpin Act to apply financial measures against significant foreign narcotics traffickers worldwide. Internationally, more than 1,000 individuals and entities linked to drug kingpins named by the President and the Department of the Treasury have been designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act since June 2000.
Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.