The United States is taking action against three Mexican drug cartels. The news comes as President Barack Obama prepares to travel to Mexico on Thursday for talks with President Felipe Calderon.
The drug-related violence plaguing Mexico, particularly along the U.S. border, is likely to dominate the discussions in Mexico City.
President Obama has praised efforts by the Mexican government to stand up to the drug cartels. And on the eve of the talks, he showed America's commitment to do the same.
He added three Mexican groups to the U.S. government's blacklist of drug syndicates.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs made the official announcement.
"Earlier today, the president designated three Mexican organizations under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The three organizations are the Sinaloa cartel, Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana," he announced.
Gibbs said the move underscores America's intent to attack the financial underpinnings of the Mexican drug cartels, which generate billions of dollars in revenue each year.
He said the Treasury Department now has the authority to block or seize any assets, accounts or securities under U.S. jurisdiction held by these organizations or anyone acting on their behalf.
Usually, the White House puts out an annual list of suspected drug kingpins on or about June 1, as required by law. But Gibbs said the president had the right to act now to sanction these three Mexican groups because the need is urgent.
"That is the case today. And it is the first time any president has acted outside the June 1 time frame," he said.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has picked a former federal prosecutor to coordinate efforts to end drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and slow the tide of illegal immigration.
Alan Bersin worked at the Justice Department in the 1990s and led a government crackdown on illegal immigrants at the California-Mexico border, known as Operation Gatekeeper.