Investing.com reported on Tuesday that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury had sanctioned a crypto wallet associated with Mexican national Mario Alberto Jimenez Castro. This wallet is thought to be connected to a major international crime syndicate involved in money laundering activities to support the Sinaloa Cartel’s illicit fentanyl trade in the United States.
OFAC stated that the wallet had a balance of 0.018 Ether (ETH) worth $28.22 at the time of the announcement. The last activity on the wallet was over 200 days ago. The Treasury has taken this action in response to the “illicit fentanyl trafficking” crisis affecting the United States.
Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, highlighted the administration’s dedication to combating criminal organizations that threaten global security and contribute to the opioid crisis in the US. He asserted that they would continue to target such operations relentlessly.
This is a continuation of previous sanctions by OFAC against individuals linked to the Lazarus Group and the inclusion of crypto mixer Tornado Cash in its list of Specially Designated Nationals in August 2022 due to alleged money laundering and sanctions violations. The decision was met with criticism from industry leaders and policymakers, which led to a lawsuit against Treasury supported by six individuals from crypto exchange Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN). However, a judge largely sided with the U.S. government in August.
The recent sanctions against Jimenez Castro and his Ethereum wallet illustrate the Treasury’s ongoing efforts in disrupting illicit financial activities, particularly those related to the opioid crisis. It also shows the challenges faced by authorities in tracking and controlling transactions made through cryptocurrencies, which have become increasingly attractive for illicit activities due to their anonymity and decentralized operations.