HomeNewsBriefUS Drops Names From 'Kingpin' List, Accused of 'Lacking Rigor'
BRIEF

US Drops Names From 'Kingpin' List, Accused of 'Lacking Rigor'

COLOMBIA / 27 FEB 2017 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

The United States has dropped almost two dozen Latin American entities from its notorious drug "kingpin" list, exemplifying how difficult it can be at times to distinguish between licit and illicit businesses in the region. 

The Treasury department announced on February 23 that over 20 Colombian, Guatemalan and Mexican businesses and individuals had been removed from the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list, often referred to as the "kingpin" list. 

Among the 16 Colombian entities mentioned is the Colombiana De Biocombustibles S.A. biofuel company. In 2014, Treasury called the company's partial owner "a political operative and money launderer for La Oficina [de Envigado]" -- an infamous criminal organization based in the city of Medellín.

US officials now say the company has presented the institution with "sufficient evidence to prove that they have ended their relationship" with the compromising businesses or people that led to their designation.

However, the founder of Colombiana De Biocombustibles, Carlos Palacio, denies his company ever had criminal ties to begin with, and claims that the "partial owner" had only contributed land to the business.

"The US government lacked rigor…They did us a lot of harm. They ruined our public image," Palacio told El Espectador.

InSight Crime Analysis

The kingpin act can be a useful tool for US authorities to bring down criminal organizations and their business associates. The Treasury's designations have often served to pressure foreign countries into taking action against criminals long seen as "untouchable" figures. This has been the case in Honduras, where several traffickers -- including businessman and politician José Miguel "Chepe" Handal Pérez -- began to fall after the US Treasury forced them into the spotlight.

But as this case demonstrates, it can also be a crippling handicap to businesses that may have been erroneously targeted. And given how much drug money makes its way into the formal economy, it can be tricky determining which businesses do and do not meet the Treasury's threshold for inappropriate links to criminal networks. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Money Laundering

The lack of due process involved in the Treasury's "naming and shaming" strategy further risks hurting the wrong people. US nationals are generally prohibited from doing dealings with those on the SDN list, whose reputations can be irretrievably tarnished by the designation. Businesses can go into ruin and scores of people can lose their jobs as a result, despite accusations that the United States does not always offer local authorities evidence to justify the sanctions. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CARIBBEAN / 9 JUL 2021

Two days on from the nighttime assassination of Haiti President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince, competing theories have failed to provide…

BRAZIL / 28 JUL 2022

Former Paraguay president, Horacio Cartes, is accused of money laundering at home, with US authorities also on his tail.

COCA / 20 OCT 2022

Colombian coca cultivation and potential cocaine production has hit a record high. How will this impact the government's drugs policy?…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…