The US Treasury has added two figures linked to the Beltran Leyva Organization to its "Kingpin List," another sign the once ailing drug cartel is restoring its influence in Mexico.
The Treasury designated Arnoldo Villa Sanchez and Miguel Loza Hernandez as specially designated narcotics traffickers (SDNT), along with security firm Sistemas Elite De Seguridad Privada, in which both men have shares.
Villa, who also uses the name Erick Rene Calderon Sanchez, is the head of security for Hector Beltran Leyva, current leader of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) and has carried out various acts of violence on his behalf, according to the press release. Loza, meanwhile, was singled out for his links to Villa and the security company.
As a result of the decision, any assets owned by the men or company in the United States are frozen and US citizens are forbidden from doing business with them.
Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Director Adam Szubin said the designations come in the face of a "resurgence" of the BLO.
InSight Crime Analysis
These new designations reinforce the notion of the BLO's recent revival. Originally led by three brothers, Arturo, Hector and Alfredo Beltran Leyva, the once powerful allies of the Sinaloa Cartel had been reeling following the January 2008 arrest of Alfredo and December 2009 death of Arturo at the hands of Mexican marines. Alfredo's arrest caused an acrimonious split from the Sinaloa Cartel, while Arturo's death saw the group descend into disarray and infighting.
However, Hector Beltran Leyva has gradually rebuilt the organization, forging strong links with the Zetas to battle a partnership of the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels. The BLO was thought to be instrumental in the Zetas' successful battle for the northern city of Monterrey -- a key drug trafficking territory.
SEE ALSO: The Zetas and Monterrey
The organization has also never been eradicated from the Pacific coastal city of Acapulco, where an ongoing territorial war has claimed some 600 lives this year, according to state police sources consulted by InSight Crime.
The BLO was also linked to an attack on CIA agents last year, while its reach seemingly extends beyond Mexico's borders, with Panamanian intelligence sources earlier this year naming it as one of four Mexican cartels operating in Panama.