Colombia's Urabeños, Mexico's Knights Templar and Honduras' Cachiros have been added to the US Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers list, meaning US citizens are now banned from doing business with them.
The US Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control added the groups to its list, of individuals or companies who work on behalf of countries that are economically sanctioned by the US, or who are suspected drug traffickers or terrorists, on May 31.
Various leaders of the Urabeños, one of Colombia's principal drug trafficking organizations, are already featured on the list, but this is the first time the group as a whole has received its own mention. The Treasury Department said it was operating in 24 of Colombia's 32 provinces, reported Semana. The US Embassy in Colombia gave $500,000 to the Colombian government to help its fight against criminal gangs, reported newspaper El Tiempo.
The Treasury Department said the Cachiros controlled 90 percent of the illegal landing strips used by drug planes in Honduras and Guatemala. In Mexico, alleged Tijuana cartel leader Luis Fernando Sanchez Arellana was added to the list, as well as the Michaocan-based organization Knights Templar.
InSight Crime Analysis
These three groups all have very different levels of power and responsibilities along the international drug trafficking chain. The Urabeños are now estimated to have more than 2,000 members across Colombia and are one of the principal suppliers of cocaine to Mexican groups. The Cachiros are "transportistas", a local gang acting as middle men in the transhipment of Andean-produced drugs towards the United States. The Knights Templar is not one of Mexico's biggest cartels but is still a serious player, acting at the last stage of the supply chain into the US.
It is somewhat surprising the Urabeños and the Knights Templar have not been included on the SDN list until now, given their history and significance, and the fact that rival organizations such as Colombia's Rastrojos and Mexico's Zetas have featured on this list for some time.