Drug Kingpin & Transnational Crime
August 01, 2019

Months After She’s Released from Prison, U.S. Lifts Sanctions on ‘Queen of the South’

By Kortney Casanova and Samuel Rubenfeld


The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday announced a host of sanctions removals, including the delisting of a notorious Guatemalan trafficker and members of a Mexican family that had its origins in laundering money for drug cartel leaders in the 1980s.

“The people and entities delisted today credibly showed that they have stopped engaging in sanctionable activities,” a Treasury spokeswoman said in a brief statement emailed to Kharon.



The Treasury removed sanctions on Marllory Dadiana Chacon Rossell, a Guatemalan woman known as the “Queen of the South” who was once believed to be one of the most prolific drug traffickers in Central America.  

When she was designated in January 2012, the Treasury said Chacon Rossell was responsible for transshipping thousands of kilograms of cocaine per month through Guatemala into Mexico, and on to the U.S. Her husband, Jorge Andres Fernandez Carbajal, was also sanctioned at the time; he was delisted in December 2014. More than a dozen companies linked to the two of them were delisted Thursday.

Chacon Rossell was sentenced in 2015 in a sealed U.S. court hearing; a federal judge in February 2019 reduced her sentence to five years, according to court records. She was released five days later, prison records show. 

The reduction came as a result of the “extraordinary quantity and quality” of her cooperation with investigators, according to her lawyer, who was quoted by InSight Crime, an organization focused on Latin America-based organized crime.

Hayron Eduardo Borrayo Lasmibat, who was also sanctioned alongside Chacon Rossell, was delisted in 2017; he was released from prison in January, according to prison records.



The Guadalajara, Mexico-based Sanchez Garza family operation was sanctioned in June 2013 for operating on behalf of designated drug traffickers Rafael Caro Quintero and Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno, who is also known as El Azul. 

Caro Quintero and El Azul were among the members who formed a violent drug cartel in Guadalajara in the 1970s; Caro Quintero used the Sanchez Garza family to invest his fortune in companies and real estate projects, the Treasury said at the time. 

Among those delisted Thursday were the head of the Sanchez Garza family organization, Jose de Jesus Sanchez Barba; his wife, Beatriz Garza Rodriguez; and three of his sons, Diego, Jose de Jesus and Mauricio Sanchez Garza. 

Mauricio, who media reports, citing court records, said had taken over the operation from his father, pleaded guilty in October 2016 in Texas federal court to money laundering charges and admitted to an extortion scheme that involved a screenplay billed as a prequel to “The Passion of the Christ.” He was sentenced in June 2017 to more than five years in prison but was released in November 2018, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records. Mauricio’s wife, Hilda Riebeling Cordero, was also among those delisted Thursday.

Several of the family’s companies, including real estate firm Inmobiliaria Corsanch, S.A. de C.V., were also delisted. Carlos Lomeli Bolanos, a former Mexican official in President Andres Moreno Lopez Obrador’s government who is subject to a series of corruption investigations, bought property from Inmobiliaria Corsanch in 2013, a year after he was delisted; the company was later designated in 2014 over its links to the Sanchez Garza family.


Analysts from the Latin America team contributed to this report.


Kharon research

Log in for access to the latest updates and analysis on networks targeted by sanctions and sanctions-related risk. Don’t have an account? Click REQUEST AN ACCOUNT to receive information on how to get signed up.

Request an account or Log in