US Sanctions Colombian Narcotrafficker with Links to Clan del Golfo
By Steven McLoud/Diálogo January 22, 2021
On December 1, the United States announced sanctions on Jhon Fredy Zapata Garzón, an “important narcotrafficker” from Colombia, along with three other Colombia-based associates, for allegedly sending tons of drugs to the United States for the Clan del Golfo, the largest criminal organization in Colombia.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added the Zapata Garzón network — along with four companies under his control — to its blacklist under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. By being placed on the list, this effectively freezes Zapata Garzón’s properties and assets under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits all transactions with U.S. citizens and entities. According to the Treasury, Zapata Garzón used the companies to launder narcotrafficking money.
Through a coordinated effort, Colombian authorities arrested members of the network and seized assets in Colombia worth approximately $1.1 million. OFAC also coordinated closely with U.S. Southern Command in support of its counternarcotics operation in order to execute the action.
“Criminal organizations trafficking cocaine and other drugs are a threat to the safety of the American people,” said Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Treasury will continue to use its authorities to identify and disrupt dangerous criminal organizations.”
Criminal organizations trafficking cocaine and other drugs are a threat to the safety of the American people,” Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
According to the U.S. government, Zapata Garzón shipped about 4.5 tons of cocaine in 2018 under orders from the Clan del Golfo (also known as Los Urabeños) and provided campaign support and financing to mayoral candidates in several Colombian municipalities.
After the Clan del Golfo’s designation under the Kingpin Act in 2013, the U.S. Attorney General identified the group in 2018 as one of the top transnational organized crime threats. The organization moves tons of cocaine to Panama and other Central American countries, from where it reaches the United States, mostly through Mexico.
Since June 2000, more than 2,100 entities and individuals have been sanctioned under the Kingpin Act, according to official figures.