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U.S. issues sanctions against cartel leader's family members

Sept. 30, 2013 at 5:38 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. government said citizens are prohibited from doing business with two people and a banquet hall connected to a leader of a Mexican drug cartel.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control said Monday U.S. citizens are being barred from conducting financial or commercial transactions with Luis Francisco Vallarta Escalante, Alvaro Padro Pastor and the Casa V banquet hall in Guadalajara.

The two men and the business were designated as linked to Jose Esparragoza Moreno, aka El Azul, a leader of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, and U.S. citizens were banned from conducting business with them pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

Vallarta Escalante and Padro Pastor have family ties to Moreno's daughters, Brenda Guadalupe Esparragoza Gastelum and Nadia Patricia Esparragoza Gastelum, who were designated under the act along with other family members last year.

"Drug traffickers often use family members in their business activities and this is particularly true in the case of Esparragoza Moreno and the Sinaloa Cartel. We will continue to target Esparragoza Moreno's complicit family members, as well as anyone else who is engaged in illicit activity in support of the Sinaloa Cartel," OFAC Director Adam Szubin said.

The banquet hall is controlled by Padro Pastor and was previously linked to Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the deceased former leader of the Juarez Cartel.

Esparragoza Moreno is wanted in both the United States and Mexico on drug trafficking charges.

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