MEXICO CITY -- The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday added two sons of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to its "designated kingpin" list, which bars all U.S. companies, banks and individuals from doing business with them.
The sons, Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar, 31, and Ovidio Guzman Lopez, 22, play "significant" roles in their father's vast drug-trafficking empire, officials said in a statement. Guzman Salazar was arrested by Mexican authorities in 2005 on money-laundering charges but released, the statement added.
The blacklisting also freezes any assets the men might have under U.S. jurisdiction. "Chapo" Guzman, a fugitive billionaire and Mexico's most-wanted criminal, has been on the kingpin list for a decade. He heads Mexico's largest and oldest cartel, based in the Pacific state of Sinaloa. In 2005, the U.S. offered a $5-million reward for information leading to his arrest.
The U.S. government has held up its blacklisting program as one of its main tactics for fighting powerful drug cartels. More than 1,000 individuals and companies have been targeted. However, an investigation last year by The Times showed that many blacklisted firms and people continue to thrive and do business in Mexico, relatively undeterred.
The senior Guzman has numerous children by several women, including twin girls born last year in Southern California with a former beauty queen he married when she was 18.
Targeting two of his sons appears to be part of a drive to penetrate Guzman's inner circle. A number of senior aides have been arrested recently, and authorities report near-misses in capturing the capo himself.
The Treasury Department "will aggressively target those individuals who facilitate Chapo Guzman's drug-trafficking operations, including family members," Adam J. Szubin, head of the blacklisting program that operates under what is officially known as the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement. "With the Government of Mexico, we are firm in our resolve to dismantle Chapo Guzman's drug trafficking organization."
-- Tracy Wilkinson
Photo: In a 2005 wanted poster for Joaquin Guzman, U.S. authorities offer a bounty of $5 million. Credit: U.S. Justice Department