The US Treasury Department announced Friday that it has imposed sanctions on a Mexico-based criminal people-smuggling organization that had facilitated the illegal entry of thousands of undocumented migrants into the US through the southern border.
The international “sophisticated network” was led by the Mexican Ofelia Hernández Salas, implicated “in the falsification of documents and corruption in Mexico to smuggle undocumented immigrants to the US since at least 2018,” indicates a statement from the Office of Foreign Assets Control. (OFAC).
Hernández Salas, leader of the organization of the same name, has ties to the Sinaloa Cartel and remains in a Mexican jail awaiting extradition to US territory to answer in court.
In a coordinated action with the government of Mexico, OFAC also sanctioned four of Hernández Salas’ organization’s human smuggling associates.
The sanctions include the blocking of assets and properties in the name of the listed persons, either exclusively or partially.
The appointment of Hernández Salas and his criminal enterprise “is intended to disrupt the global operations of the group,” explained the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson.
Nelson insisted that they will continue to “aggressively target those who seek to take advantage of desperate migrants and abuse the US financial system.”
Smuggling networks such as the organization led by Hernández Salas arrange transportation, lodging and documents so that people who do not meet the US entry requirements can enter the country. Its influence extends throughout the continent, but its presence is strongest in the Central American countries.
US and Mexican authorities estimate that victims pay between $10,000 and $70,000 for smuggling services.
“The practice of people smuggling and the provision of fraudulent documentation undermines the US asylum system, damages public confidence in the investigative process and jeopardizes access to protection for vulnerable people fleeing conflict, the famine and persecution,” the Treasury Department warned.