A Mexican newspaper and one of its executives have been accused by the U.S. Treasury Department of allegedly having ties to drug traffickers.
The Treasury Department said in a statement this week the criminal group Los Cuinis had used the Mexican newspaper Unomasuno “to further its drug trafficking activities” and announced it would sanction the paper’s vice president, Naim Libien Tella, by freezing all of his assets in the United States.
U.S. authorities also moved to freeze the assets of other Mexican businesses owned by Libien Tella, including another newspaper, Diario Amanecer, and an airline.
According to the U.S. Treasury, criminal group Los Cuinis has ties to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which the Mexican government says is the country’s most powerful and wealthy drug trafficking organization.
After the announcement, Libien Tella published an open letter in Unomasuno denying any wrongdoing. He said he didn’t understand why his newspapers were being singled out. “The editorial line of these dailies has been very critical against drug trafficking,” he wrote. “For years, we have exposed the cartels that poison Mexicans and Americans.”
Libien Tella claimed the papers are being targeted over their drug war coverage. “Obscure interests attempt to silence these dailies because of their editorial line,” he wrote, alleging "Mexican sources" had provided U.S. officials with false information to discredit the newspapers.
Mexican officials couldn’t be immediately reached to comment on his allegation.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office said it is analyzing the accusations made by the Treasury Department.
This is not the first time Mexican media is accused of having ties to organized crime. Last year, a leaked video surfaced showing one of Mexico’s top drug lords paying journalists for good press.