Treasury hits Mexican pilot for alleged drug links

AP News
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Posted: Oct 13, 2010 5:14 PM
Treasury hits Mexican pilot for alleged drug links

The Treasury Department said Wednesday it is sanctioning a Mexican pilot, alleging he runs a fleet of airmen who transport drugs and money for a Mexican cartel.

Treasury said it named Alejandro Flores Cacho as a foreign drug trafficker under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The designation prohibits anyone in the U.S. from conducting transactions with him or his businesses and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

The department said Flores' businesses include an aircraft hangar and maintenance operation, a flight school and an air cargo carrier.

Flores has a "cadre of pilots and operatives who coordinate the delivery and distribution of narcotics by air and sea from South America to Mexico and then on to the United States," a Treasury Department statement said.

He has links with Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia, both considered leaders of Sinaloa Cartel, the department said. The cartel is among the forces behind the drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, particularly Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Flores' organization is supported by Mantenimiento, Aeronautica, Transporte, y Servicios Aereos, an aircraft hangar and maintenance business located in Toluca, Mexico; Capicitacion Aeronautica Profesional, a flight school in Cuernavaca, Mexico used to train pilots involved in drug trafficking; and Aero Express Intercontinental, a Mexico City-based air cargo carrier, the department said.

His wife and brother are part of a "network of financial operatives" running front companies, including a restaurant, a cattle ranch, an agricultural business, a manufacturing and distribution firm, a sports management club, an electronics company, and an office supplies store, Treasury said. It added that Flores' legal adviser, Arturo Ruiz de Chavez Martinez, and Rafael Duarte Torres, a bulk cash smuggling coordinator for the organization, were also designated Wednesday.

The department said Flores and Ricardo Garcia Sanchez, a key lieutenant, are fugitives from U.S. authorities. In May 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas indicted both on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control has designated nearly 800 businesses and individuals linked to 87 drug kingpins since June 2000, according to the department.