WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Wednesday on two members of the international criminal gang MS-13, accusing them of involvement in drug trafficking and murder in Central America and the United States.
The sanctions against the two individuals — an MS-13 leader in Honduras and an associate with the gang in Nicaragua — are part of a broader U.S. government effort to disrupt the group’s activities and financing, the department said in a statement.
“Treasury’s sanctions against MS-13 aim to interrupt its use of the financial system to launder illicit proceeds,” department official Brian E. Nelson said.
The leader in Honduras, Archaga Caria, has distributed cocaine from that country to the United States, and has ordered the murders of rival gang members, the department said.
Caria, also known as “Porky,” escaped from prison in Honduras and is a fugitive from U.S. and Honduran law enforcement, it added. The department is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest or conviction, it said.
The MS-13 associate, Campbell Licona, used businesses the gang owned or controlled to launder drug proceeds, including through U.S. banks, the department said. He is currently incarcerated in Nicaragua, it added.
Washington has sought to increase pressure on MS-13 in recent years. U.S. authorities have charged top MS-13 leaders with terrorism, sought the death penalty for a leader facing murder charges, and pressured El Salvador to extradite wanted group leaders.
(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Bernadette Baum)