Mexican chemical traffickers targeted

April 12, 2012 at 2:51 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- A reputed Mexican trafficking ring has been added to the U.S. roster of notorious drug kingpins, the Drug Enforcement Administration said Thursday.

The so-called Figueroa Vasquez ring has been allegedly diverting large volumes of chemicals from Europe and Africa to Mexico where they are used in the production of methamphetamine.

The organization's leaders were declared Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers Thursday, making them subject to having any of their assets in the United States frozen and prohibiting U.S. citizens from having any business dealings with them.

"This organization for years served as a major facilitator on behalf of some of the most violent Mexico-based drug networks," DEA Chief of Financial Operations John Arvanitis said in a written statement. "The biggest cartels in the world rely on organizations like this one to secure huge amounts of precursor chemicals like ephedrine and pseudoephedrine to produce massive amounts of meth that end up in the United States."

The DEA said the Figueroa Vasquez network was led by Ezio Benjamin Figueroa Vasquez and his son, Hassein Eduardo Figueroa Gomez. They allegedly were able to regularly divert multi-ton quantities of meth precursors using a network of some 16 companies in Mexico and Panama.

Figueroa Vasquez has been in Mexican custody since last year and both he and his son are under indictment in Virginia for money laundering.

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