In mid-December 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and giving sweeping powers to the U.S. Treasury Department to sanction foreign individuals and organizations engaging in the global trade of illegal drugs.
“The trafficking into the United States of illicit drugs, including fentanyl and other synthetic opioids, is causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans annually, as well as countless more non-fatal overdoses with their own tragic human toll. Drug cartels, transnational criminal organizations, and their facilitators are the primary sources of illicit drugs and precursor chemicals that fuel the current opioid epidemic, as well as drug-related violence that harms our communities,” the executive order says.
The new order gives the Treasury Department much broader powers to impose economic sanctions on any foreign person found to have engaged in activities that have contributed, or even risked contributing to the international proliferation of illicit drugs. Any foreign national who knowingly receives any property acquired through the proceeds of the illicit drug trade will also be subject to sanctions under the new order. The Treasury may also, among other sanctions, ban their entry into the country, freeze all U.S.-based assets, and prevent U.S. citizens or other entities from doing any business with them.
With the executive order, names of specially designated nationals were added or updated on the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) list. Criminal organizations such as China’s Wuhan Yuancheng Gongchuang Technology Co. Ltd. and the Brazilian faction First Capital Command (PCC, in Portuguese) were added to the list. In addition, 13 entities and 10 individuals have been designated. Apart from the PCC, all individuals and entities are of Chinese, Colombian, or Mexican origin.
Wuhan Yuancheng Gongchuang Technology Co. Ltd. is named as one of the companies controlled by Chuen Fat Yip, through which he “traffics fentanyl, anabolic steroids, and other synthetic drugs to the United States,” the Treasury Department indicated. Chuen Fat Yip is considered one of the world’s largest producer of anabolic steroid. The United States is issuing a reward of $5 million for information leading to his arrest or conviction.
The PCC is identified as “the most powerful organized crime group in Brazil and among the most powerful in the world,” according to the Treasury. Although its leader, Marcos Camacho, alias Marcola, has been in maximum security prison since 2017, the faction dominates drug trafficking in Brazil, operating throughout South America to ship the narcotics to the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. According to the U.S. embassy in Brazil, it was the first time a Brazilian cartel made the OFAC’s list.