OFAC Blacklists Oil Subcontractor for Zetas Links

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The US Treasury Department has placed sanctions against an oil services subcontractor accused of laundering money for the Zetas, offering a glimpse into the kinds of legitimate businesses used to cover the criminal group’s dirty profits.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) enforced sanctions against ADT Petroservicios, an oil subcontractor based in Veracruz state owned by Francisco Antonio Colorado Cessa.

Colorado was arrested in June in Texas for assisting the Zetas with another money laundering scheme: buying race horses, as part of a multi-million dollar conspiracy that involved training, breeding, and racing quarter horses in the US. Colorado was previously blacklisted by the OFAC as a specially designated drug trafficker.

According to the company website, ADT Petroservicios was established in 2001 and specializes in waste management and cleanup projects for the oil business.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to Proceso, ADT Petroservicios had significant business dealings with state oil company Pemex. These include 28 contracts with an estimated worth of 1.4 billion pesos (about $105 million) since 2005. The OFAC blacklisting could potentially prompt further probes in Mexico about Pemex’s dealings with Colorado’s company. The Zetas have been signaled as the Mexican criminal group most deeply involved with stealing oil from Pemex for profit.

When the New York Times first reported on the Zetas’ involvement in US race horse breeding as a means to disguise their illicit profits, it revealed the Zetas’ capacity to coordinate such an intricate money laundering scheme. For a group that is usually characterized as a menace due to its capacity for brutal violence, the horse racing story was a reminder that the Zetas also have brains for doing business, and are not just about brawn. That the Zetas used ADT Petroservicios as a means to conceal their dirty proceeds is also indicative of the group’s capacity to establish footholds in a legitimate industry as closely scrutinized as the oil business.

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