White House Issues Drug Kingpin Hot List

White House Issues Drug Kingpin Hot List
Posted by FoM on June 02, 2000 at 14:19:06 PT
By Ken Guggenheim
Source: Salon Magazine
A dozen foreign nationals, including six Mexicans, have been named to a new White House list of suspected international drug kingpins subject to asset seizure and other financial penalties. All 12 of those on the list presented to Congress on Thursday were familiar names in the fight against drugs. 
All were already under indictment and several of the Mexicans are in jail in their home country. A copy of the list was obtained by The Associated Press. Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., sponsor of the 1999 law that requires the White House to prepare the list, said it was an important step even if those named don't hold American assets. "If this tool didn't exist, even if you were under indictment you could do business with a bank. But you cannot now," he said. The law required the White House to submit the names by June 1. The list consisted of six Mexicans, a Burmese warlord, a Chinese national operating in Southeast Asia, two from St. Kitts-Nevis and two from Nigeria. Those named -- and their business associates -- will have their U.S. assets frozen and Americans will be barred from doing business with them. Treasury Department officials said they doubt the alleged kingpins kept assets in their names that could be frozen, and hope the list will lay the groundwork for cutting off their financial resources. The law has been criticized by civil libertarians and some business groups concerned that innocent people could be named and would have little opportunity to clear their reputations and retrieve their assets. Mexico has also expressed concern that the list could be politicized by its critics in Congress and innocent people could be unfairly tarnished. The names released Thursday are unlikely to generate much controversy. "It shows that this is not going to be some loose operation that wraps its arms around people in an unexpected way," Coverdell said. But a second part of the list, to name people and businesses that are believed to be tied to the kingpins, could be more sensitive. That list is being prepared by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. The date of its release is uncertain. Supporters of the law note that under an executive order the government has been listing Colombian drug kingpins and their associates since 1995 and few objections have been raised. The Colombian list now consists of seven suspected kingpins and 526 people and businesses believed to be tied to them. A commission has been set up to determine whether those affected by the law will be assured due process. The Mexicans include two sets of brothers. Tijuana-based Ramon and Benjamin Arrellano Felix are said to be leaders of one of the most violent drug trafficking groups in Mexico. U.S. authorities say Jose de Jesus and Luis Ignacio Amezcua are major traffickers in methamphetamines. Mexican authorities have failed to convict the Amezcuas on drug or money-laundering charges and they have won court orders blocking deportation to the United States. Rafael Caro Quintero, who has been jailed by Mexican authorities, reputedly operated out of the Sonora area, while Vincente Carrillo Fuentes, a leader in the Juarez drug operation, is the brother of the late Amado Carrillo Fuentes, at the time of his death in 1997 one of Mexico's most powerful drug lords. Also listed were Chang Chi-Fu -- also known as Khun Sa -- of Burma; Wei Hsueh-Kang, a Chinese national who operates in Southeast Asia; Noel Timothy Heath and Glenroy Vingrove Matthews of St. Kitts-Nevis; and Abeni and Oluwole Ogungbuyi of Nigeria. Posted: June 02, 2000 Copyright  2000 Salon.comRelated Articles:White House Issues a Blacklist of Top Traffickers Targets Top Drug Traffickers 
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