Remarks by Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo at Press Conference in Phoenix, Arizona

As Prepared for Delivery 

Thank you. I’m grateful to be here today with U.S. Attorney Restaino, Attorney General Mayes, and Mayor Gallego. You all have not only been leaders in our nationwide fight against drug trafficking, but you have also been excellent partners to the Biden-Harris Administration and the Treasury Department. 

I’m also grateful to be here today with members of the Phoenix DEA Local Enforcement Response Squad and Phoenix Police Department. Working closely with you and others in local law enforcement makes it easier for us to identify and cut off the money these drug dealers are illegally earning.

It is a top priority of the Biden-Harris Administration and of the Treasury Department to stop illicit fentanyl from entering the United States and disrupt the cartels that peddle this deadly drug.

Here in Arizona, more than five people in Arizona die each day from opioid overdoses. In Maricopa County, the majority of all drug-related deaths now involve fentanyl. Since 2015, fentanyl deaths have increased by almost 5,000 percent since. What makes these tragedies all the more heartbreaking—and infuriating—is knowing that criminals trafficking these drugs pursue profits with a callous disregard for American lives. 

President Biden asked Treasury to use all the tools at our disposal to go after the millions of dollars these drug trafficking cartels and networks earn off their illegal activity. In December 2023, our Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and IRS’ Criminal Investigations division launched the Counter-Fentanyl Strike Force to better marshal Treasury’s resources and expertise in a coordinated and streamlined operation to combat the trafficking of illicit fentanyl. 

Our ability to target the financial networks of these traffickers is effective because, in many respects, these deadly cartels operate like any other business. They need access to money. They want to transact in U.S. dollars. And they ultimately want access to the American financial system to launder their drug proceeds. By cutting them out of the U.S. financial system, we can effectively disrupt their ability to profit from drug sales in our country. 

I’m here in Phoenix to announce new sanctions against a major Sinaloa Cartel network comprised of 21 targets responsible for trafficking fentanyl into Arizona and other U.S. states and abusing the U.S. financial system to launder drug proceeds. This action builds on the 65 Sinaloa Cartel targets and 55 CJNG targets Treasury designated in 2023. 

Today’s designations also highlight both the global and local scale of our efforts. In November, President Biden raised the issue of fentanyl directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In response, we’ve seen the PRC stepping up enforcement with its domestic industry to limit the flow of precursor chemicals fueling illicit fentanyl. 

In December, Secretary Janet Yellen met with leaders of the Mexican government to further deepen our partnership with them to curb drug trafficking. This includes working with Mexican authorities and financial institutions on both sides of the border on ways we can accelerate cross border information sharing. 

And today, we were able to act thanks to our local partners at the DEA Phoenix Field Division as well as DEA’s Scottsdale Task Force. In addition to the designations, we are also pleased to announce the signing of an updated Memorandum of Understanding with the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office for its continued access to and use of Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) data. BSA data plays an integral role in identifying criminal activities—including drug and fentanyl trafficking—and will enable Treasury to continue to work with local law enforcement to root out illicit activity.

Disrupting the financing of fentanyl trafficking is one important step in disrupting the ability of cartels to operate in the United States. As President Biden has said, we also need more resources at the border to interdict traffickers. 

We continue to call on Congress to pass the Administration’s national security supplemental budget request, which included over $200 million to hire 1,000 additional CBP officers to stop illicit fentanyl from entering the United States and $100 million for Homeland Security Investigations to disrupt transnational criminal organizations and drug trafficking. As those in this room continue to take strides in curbing drug trafficking, it is critical that we have the resources we need to put an end to this destructive force in our communities. 


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