WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday a Mexican cartel has been formally designated a drug trafficking organization and its U.S. assets have been frozen.
The department's Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the designation of the Meza Flores drug trafficking organization -- including its leader, Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, key family members and three companies -- under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The formal designation means anyone who provides material support to or acts for or on behalf of the cartel can be designated under the Kingpin Act as well.
The designation prohibits people in the United States from "engaging in transactions with these eight individuals, three entities, and the entire [organization], and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction," the Treasury Department said in a news release.
The department said Meza Flores, based in Guasave, Sinaloa, has trafficked methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana and cocaine to the United States since 2000.
The news release said Meza Flores is a main rival to the Sinaloa cartel, and the rivalry has resulted in "an extremely violent turf war" that has resulted in a quadrupling of drug war deaths in the past four years and a spike in kidnappings and arson in Sinaloa.
In addition to Fausto Isidro Meza Flores, the drug trafficking organization designation applies to his wife, Araceli Chan Inzuna, his father, Fausto Isidro Meza Angulo, his mother, Angelina Flores Apodaca, and his sister and three uncles, the news release said.