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Press Release

Department of Treasury Designates Sinaloa-based Mexican Narcotics Trafficker Under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Act

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Colorado
Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office Indicted the Lead Defendant in 2016

DENVER --  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado today announced that the Department of Treasury has designated Jesus Gonzalez Penuelas and the Gonzalez Penuelas Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO) as Significant Foreign Narcotics Traffickers.  The designation is pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act and serves to deter the drug trafficking organization’s use of the U.S. financial system to launder illicit proceeds derived from narcotics sales.  In 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office first indicted Jesus Gonzalez Penuelas, charging him with trafficking heroin and cocaine to the United States.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office obtained a superseding indictment in 2018, which included charges against Ignacio Gonzalez Penuelas, a key lieutenant in the drug trafficking organization and the brother of Jesus Gonzalez-Penuelas.  In 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office also charged Adelmo Nunez Molina with various drug trafficking offenses.  Nunez Molina is a raw opium gum source of supply for Jesus Gonzalez Penuelas.  All the defendants are fugitives. 

“Drug traffickers are often motivated by the potential profit from the illegal drug trade,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Matt Kirsch.  “The sanctions associated with today’s Significant Foreign Narcotics Trafficker designations are a significant step towards preventing this DTO from profiting from its illegal drug trafficking.”

“These sanctions targeting Gonzalez Penuelas and his associates will go a long way to disrupting the heroin supply flowing across the Southwest Border,” said Deanne Reuter, Special Agent in Charge of DEA Denver Field Division.  “DEA applauds the work of our partners in the United States Attorney’s Office and the Treasury Department in making it harder for Gonzalez Penuelas to commit these crimes that affect our communities.”

According to the announcement from the Department of Treasury, the Gonzalez Penuelas DTO operates primarily in Sinaloa and Sonora, Mexico, various ports of entry in the United States, as well as numerous United States-based distribution cells in Colorado, California, Texas, Washington, Utah, and Nevada.  As a result of today’s designation, interests in property of the designated persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).  OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or persons within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.

This matter was investigated by the Strike Force associated with the Denver Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  Assistant United States Attorneys Stephanie Podolak and Zackary Phillips are prosecuting this case. 

This prosecution is part of an OCDETF investigation.  OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

Case Nos.  16-cr-217-CMA and 19-cr-89-RBJ

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Updated May 12, 2021

Drug Trafficking