President Obama stepped up efforts to curb the flow of drugs and guns across the southern border, imposing financial sanctions against three of the most violent Mexican drug cartels and threatening to prosecute Americans who do business with them, reports the Washington Post. On the eve of today’s summit with Mexican President Felipe Calderón, Obama added the cartels to the list of banned foreign “drug kingpins,” a move that empowers the federal government to seize their assets, estimated to be in the billions of dollars.
The administration accelerated what is normally a year-long effort to add names to the banned list. Authorities have estimated that $19 billion to $39 billion in drug proceeds flows south each year from the United States. The financial sanctions are another tool against the organizations, whose drug and gun trafficking has proved exceedingly difficult to curtail. Mexico has seized more than 35,000 firearms from narco-traffickers since December 2006; 90 percent of the weapons originated in the United States.