Treasury targets Panamanian cartel

The Treasury Department designated eight associates of a Panamanian drug kingpin as traffickers on Tuesday.

The department also branded shell companies that helped Jorge Fadlallah Cheaitelly, the head of a Panamanian cartel, as traffickers. Fadlallah Cheaitelly was extradited to the U.S. in 2012, after being captured in Costa Rica the previous year.

The companies and people designated as traffickers will have their assets in the U.S. blocked, and are generally barred from doing business with American citizens.

Those designated as traffickers include Fadlallah Cheaitelly’s father, a Panamanian attorney who established shell companies for Fadlallah Cheaitelly and two other relatives who help run the network’s business interests in Panama. The companies designated include restaurants, export-import companies and a nonprofit.

"Today’s action highlights the critical role that some Panamanian attorneys and resident agents play in helping known drug trafficking organizations establish shell companies that facilitate the flow and laundering of illicit proceeds,” Adam Szubin, the director of Treasury’s office of foreign assets control, said in a statement.

“Treasury will continue to keep a close watch on these types of deceptive activities, and we will continue to target those using shell companies for money laundering purposes.”