“Socalj” for Borderland Beat
“Treasury’s sanctions target every stage of the deadly supply chain fueling the surge in fentanyl poisonings and deaths across the country,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “Counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl constitute a leading cause of these deaths, devastating thousands of American families each year. We remain committed to using all authorities against enablers of illicit drug production to disrupt this deadly global production and counter the threat posed by these drugs.”
Illicit drugs in pill form, including those laced with fentanyl, may be blank or bear custom impressions. They may also be counterfeits of scheduled drugs, bearing trademarked wordmarks without authorization, such as “M30” for schedule II oxycodone products or “Xanax” for schedule IV alprazolam products.
Manufacturing illicit drugs in pill form requires a pill press machine, a controlled substance, and die molds. If the impressions on a die and on the pills it punches mimic trademarked pharmaceuticals, the die, and impressed pills are counterfeit.
Facilitation of equipment importation by bad actors is sometimes attempted in a manner designed to evade law enforcement scrutiny, which can include the mislabeling of shipments, the use of circuitous shipment routes, and the shipment of equipment parts in a piecemeal fashion.
Chinese Based Sanctions
OFAC designated Youli, Guo Chunyan, and Guo Yunnian pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14059 for having engaged in, or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production. OFAC designated Guo Ruiguang pursuant to E.O. 14059 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Youli.
OFAC also designated Shenzhen, China-located Yason General Machinery Co., Ltd. (亚新通用机械有限公司) (Yason), Hong Kong-registered but Shenzhen, China-based Yason Electronics Technology Co., Limited (亞新電子科技有限公司) (Yason Electronics), and Nanchang, China-located Shenzhen Yason General Machinery Co., Ltd. Nanchang Branch (深圳市亚新通⽤机械有限公司南昌分公司) (Yason Nanchang), interrelated Chinese companies implicated in the supply of press equipment internationally. OFAC additionally designated Yason and Yason Electronics company official Fei Yiren (费亿人) (Fei), a Chinese national.
Yason sells pill press-related equipment and has worked with a Mexico-based pill equipment supplier and contact who previously provided equipment to a Sinaloa Cartel-linked individual. This individual used the machines to create superlabs in Mexico with the capacity to produce millions of fentanyl-laced pills weekly. In 2017, Yason Electronics sent a pill press machine — in multiple packages and via the United States — to the contact in Mexico, the intended buyer of the equipment.
OFAC designated these companies and individuals pursuant to E.O. 14059 for having engaged in or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that have materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production.
Mexican Based Sanctions
The designations also include Mexpacking Solutions (Mexpacking), a Chihuahua, Mexico-based business that sells pill presses and other equipment and is controlled by a Sinaloa Cartel pill press supplier. The business has been used as cover for an individual involved with making fentanyl-laced pills and with assisting Mexico-based cartel members with pill press operations. Goods from Mexpacking were shipped to another pill press equipment supplier involved with coordinating shipments of pill press machines and parts to drug trafficking organizations, including the Sinaloa Cartel.
Along with Mexpacking, OFAC designated three related individuals, all Mexican nationals: Mario Ernesto Martinez Trevizo (Martinez), Cinthia Adriana Rodriguez Almeida (Rodriguez), and Ernesto Alonso Macias Trevizo (Macias). Martinez, a sales representative with Mexpacking, as of late 2022, was responsible for managing a pill press supply network in Mexico, the head of which supplied pill press equipment the Sinaloa Cartel used.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in the property of the designated persons described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. U.S. persons may face civil or criminal penalties for violations of E.O. 14059.