MEXICO CITY (AP) — On Friday, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on a Mexican migrant trafficking organization that provided false identification to asylum applicants in an effort to circumvent the legal system.
The gang, also known as the Hernandez Salas organization, is based in Mexicali, a border town close to Calexico, California.
The Treasury statement said that the gang had orchestrated immigration by people from “countries posing national security concerns” since at least 2018. However, it did not specify the nations.
The gang did bring people into the nation illegally from a variety of nations, including Iran, Yemen, Eritrea, and Russia, the authorities did acknowledge.
The illegal scheme hurts those who really need asylum protection, the Treasury said in a statement.
“The practice of human smuggling and the facilitation of fraudulent documentation undermines the U.S. asylum system,” according to the statement, “damaging public confidence in the vetting process and jeopardizing access to protection for vulnerable persons fleeing conflict, famine, and persecution.”
The head of the group is allegedly Ofelia Hernández Salas, a woman with ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel. The penalty also applied to four colleagues and two hotels that provided lodging for migrants. Hernández Salas is being held in Mexico as he waits to be extradited to the US to face justice for his crimes.
The government claims that the gang paid migrants between $10,000 and $70,000 for packages that comprised entrance fees, transit to Mexico, and the use of fake documents.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) administers penalties that freeze the assets of American companies and people. They also prohibit American citizens and businesses from doing business with the designated corporations.