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A cartel-related Ethereum wallet has been sanctioned by the US Treasury for “illicit fentanyl trafficking.”

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A crypto wallet allegedly linked to Mario Alberto Jimenez Castro, a Mexican national, is suspected to have facilitated illicit fentanyl transactions within the United States. The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has appended this wallet to its roster of Specially Designated Nationals, connecting it to a significant international criminal syndicate.

In a statement made on September 26th, the U.S. Treasury disclosed sanctions imposed on ten individuals, including several with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel. Among those individuals is Mario Alberto Jimenez Castro, a Mexican citizen whose association with an Ethereum wallet raised red flags.

“[Jimenez Castro],” the Treasury affirmed, “[is] a direct subordinate to a Chapitos deputy and oversees a money laundering operation utilizing digital currencies, wire transfers, and various other techniques. This operation facilitates the transfer of proceeds from the unlawful sale of fentanyl in the United States to Sinaloa Cartel leaders in Mexico.” The Treasury further expounded that Jimenez Castro has orchestrated the retrieval of cash within the United States through local couriers, channeling it into various digital currency wallets for direct payments to the Chapitos and reinvestment in fentanyl production.

Per Etherscan data, the wallet maintained a balance of approximately 0.018 Ether, equivalent to $28.22, at the time of this publication, with its most recent activity dating back over 200 days. OFAC’s most recent sanctions encompassed no other wallet addresses, a move prompted by the pervasive issue of “illicit fentanyl trafficking” contributing to the opioid crisis in the United States.

Brian Nelson, the under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, stated, “Today’s actions underscore the unwavering commitment of the Treasury and the Administration to relentlessly target criminal enterprises that jeopardize global security and saturate our communities with lethal substances such as fentanyl.”

These sanctions closely follow OFAC’s previous actions against individuals affiliated with North Korea’s Lazarus Group. In a related development, the U.S. Treasury cited Lazarus as one of the factors behind its inclusion of the crypto mixer known as Tornado Cash in its Specially Designated Nationals list back in August 2022. In August 2023, U.S. authorities apprehended Roman Storm, a co-founder of Tornado Cash, on charges pertaining to money laundering and violations of sanctions.

The Treasury’s actions against Tornado Cash had drawn considerable criticism from industry leaders and policymakers. Six individuals supported by the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase had filed a lawsuit challenging the Treasury’s sanctions. However, in August, a judge predominantly favored the U.S. government in a summary judgment motion.

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