Franco Tabarez Martínez sanctioned for drug trafficking from La Nueva Familia Michoacana to Atlanta and Houston

Facing US sanctions, Mexico's Tabarez Martínez grapples with his role in the deadly fentanyl trade and methamphetamine distribution.

Franco Tabarez Martínez, a Mexican national implicated in drug trafficking, has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department. This move is part of the U.S.’s ongoing efforts to combat organized crime, specifically focusing on those connected with La Nueva Familia Michoacana, an organization known for dealing in narcotics such as fentanyl and cocaine.

Born on January 29, 1974, in the municipality of Coyuca de Catalan in Guerrero, Tabarez Martínez is 49. Despite his long history of criminal activity, the full extent of his involvement in drug trafficking to the U.S. remains unclear. Tabarez is not a newcomer to the U.S. criminal justice system, having already served over 12 months in U.S. prison for his role in distributing methamphetamine.

Accused of having a hand in synthetic drug trafficking to the U.S., specifically to the cities of Atlanta, Georgia, and Houston, Texas, he allegedly handled the distribution of a ton of methamphetamine every two months. Tabarez was more than just a distributor. He was also responsible for overseeing operations in at least two clandestine laboratories in Mexico that produced methamphetamine and crystal meth.

 Franco Tabarez Martínez controlled two narco-laboratories where methamphetamine was produced. 
(Photo: National Guard)
Franco Tabarez Martinez controlled two narco-laboratories where methamphetamine was produced (Photo: National Guard)

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) slapped a designation on Tabarez Wednesday “for attempting to engage in activities or transactions that have materially contributed to the international proliferation of illicit drugs,” according to a Treasury Department statement. This was in response to his significant role in the drug trafficking industry. The OFAC’s sanctions have serious implications for Tabarez, requiring all his U.S. properties to be reported to the authorities. Moreover, anyone who conducts transactions with him could face penalties.

Investigations revealed that he obtained fentanyl powder from the People’s Republic of China. On July 7, a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia brought multiple charges against him, including “conspiracy to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute it illegally.”

The New Michoacan Family has ventured into the sale of rainbow fentanyl (Photo: DEA).
La Nueva Familia Michoacana has dabbled in the sale of rainbow fentanyl (Photo: DEA)

What does La Nueva Familia Michoacana do?

La Nueva Familia Michoacana, the organization Tabarez is linked with, is identified by the U.S. authorities as the successor to the “La Familia Michoacana” criminal organization. The latter group was targeted for sanctions in 2009 and again in 2021 due to its involvement in drug trafficking.

Operating in at least 35 municipalities across Michoacán, Guerrero, Morelos, and the State of Mexico (Edomex), the group continues to grow, expanding into other regions where it also partakes in extortion. La Nueva Familia Michoacana has recently been noted for its sale of rainbow fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid that has resulted in thousands of overdose deaths and sparked a health crisis in the U.S.

The organization is not just involved in the sale of this deadly opioid but also engages in the cultivation of marijuana and poppy and the distribution of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine in the U.S. At present, brothers Johnny and José Hurtado Olascoaga helm the organization, and are also high on the list of U.S. agencies’ priority targets due to their involvement in illicit activities and health crimes.