Daughter of “El Mencho” Pleads Guilty to Kingpin Act Violations

03/23/21 (written by rramos) – On March 12, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a press release stating that 34-year-old Jessica Johanna Oseguera González, the daughter of  Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, CJNG) leader Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes, pled guilty to criminal violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, a U.S. federal law commonly known as the Kingpin Act. According to the DOJ statement, Oseguera González pled guilty to “willfully engaging in financial dealings with Mexican companies” that had been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for having “provided material support” to the CJNG’s drug trafficking activities. More specifically, court documents identified Oseguera González as an owner of two businesses that were formally identified by OFAC as “specially designated narcotics traffickers” for links to the CJNG, and as an “officer, director, or agent” of four other companies under OFAC sanctions. Two sushi restaurants, an advertising firm, and a tequila agency were among the six OFAC-designated entities with which Oseguera González “engaged in property transactions” and which were allegedly used to launder money for the CJNG. She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 11 and is facing up to 30 years in prison. 

Jessica Johanna, a dual U.S.-Mexican citizen who also uses the criminal alias “La Negra,” was arrested by U.S. authorities in February 2020 at a federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. She had been attempting to attend the trial of her brother, Rubén “El Menchito” Oseguera González, who had just been extradited from Mexico to face drug trafficking charges in the United States.

Photo: Los Angeles Times

El Mencho’s Inner Circle Under Pressure

As illustrated by the case of Jessica Johanna, the governments of Mexico and the United States have increasingly focused their attention on members of “El Mencho” Oseguera’s inner circle as part of the broader effort to locate the elusive cartel leader. 

As mentioned earlier, his son Rubén has been in U.S. custody since 2020 after losing a “long legal fight against extradition.” He is currently awaiting trial for charges of conspiring to distribute large quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine, as well as using a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking-related activities. A 2018 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) press release had identified Rubén as the CJNG’s “second in command” until his capture by Mexican officials in June 2015. 

Rosalinda González Valencia, widely reported to be the spouse of “El Mencho” and mother to both Rubén and Jessica Johanna, was arrested in May 2018 in Zapopan, Jalisco. Alfonso Navarrete Prida, Mexico’s then-interior minister, stated in a press conference following the arrest that González Valencia played a leading role in overseeing the CJNG’s financial operations. A month later, Rosalinda was formally accused in a Mexican court of “creating a network of 73 businesses” used to launder billions of pesos on behalf of the CJNG. In September 2018, however, she was released on bail after paying nearly 1.5 million pesos. 

Rosalinda’s brother, Abigael González Valencia, is another prominent member of El Mencho’s family that has been targeted by authorities. Abigael, known also as “El Cuini,” is assessed to be the leader of Los Cuinis organization, described by the DOJ as the CJNG’s “primary financial support network” responsible for conducting extensive money laundering operations. Abigael was arrested in Mexico in 2015, but since then has waged a prolonged legal battle that has continuously hampered ongoing attempts to extradite him to the United States. He remains incarcerated at El Altiplano federal prison in the State of Mexico even as other González Valencia siblings alleged to be members of the CJNG’s Los Cuinis support network have already been extradited or are awaiting extradition to face drug charges in the U.S.

Beyond his family, authorities have also been vigorously pursuing some of El Mencho’s closest associates within the CJNG. In early March 2021, OFAC sanctioned Juan Manuel “El Árabe” Abouzaid under the Kingpin Act for “his high-level role in facilitating drug shipments and money laundering” for the CJNG, with U.S. officials asserting he “[maintained] a close relationship with senior leaders of CJNG.” According to Univision, the DEA had identified Abouzaid in June 2020 as a high-ranking figure in the CJNG with ties to “El Mencho.” On March 9, just days after his OFAC designation, Abouzaid was arrested by Mexican federal agents, with the U.S. now reportedly seeking his extradition.

As the U.S. and Mexico continue to exert pressure on “El Mencho” Oseguera’s closest relatives and partners, he remains one of the most sought-after criminals in both countries. Both governments are offering substantial monetary awards (10 million dollars in the U.S. and 30 million pesos in Mexico) for information leading to his capture. With this in mind, it is likely that the systematic targeting of those closest to “El Mencho” is intended to obtain information on his whereabouts as well as on the inner workings of the CJNG. 

CJNG’s Continued Expansion

Nevertheless, the efforts of both the Mexican and U.S. governments to close in on “El Mencho” himself do not appear to be impeding the overall growth of the organization he leads. In its National Drug Threat Assessment released in March 2021, the DEA determined that the CJNG has seen a “rapid expansion” that has allowed the group to establish a “significant presence in 23 of the 32 Mexican states.” According to InSight Crime, the CJNG’s territorial advances within the past year have included “rapid gains in the states of Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Veracruz, and Mexico City.” In many of these areas, the CJNG appears to have nimbly exploited the fracturing or weakening of rival groups. In Guanajuato, the CJNG managed to win control of additional territories while its main adversary in the state, the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, was engulfed in internal disputes following the arrest of its leader José Antonio “El Marro” Yépez Ortiz in August 2020. Meanwhile in Veracruz, remnants of the once-powerful Zetas network have been unable to prevent the CJNG from “[asserting] control” over the port of Veracruz or operating in and around the port city of Coatzacoalcos. 

Another key aspect of the CJNG’s continued growth has been its ability to leverage alliances with other criminal groups, often local-level organizations or fragments of weakened larger cartels, particularly in strategically-located areas along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities in the northern state of Chihuahua reportedly detected a meeting between members of the CJNG and La Línea, an armed wing of the Juárez Cartel, in which the two groups agreed to join forces to combat the Sinaloa Cartel for control of the Ciudad Juárez trafficking corridor. A similar dynamic is reportedly unfolding in the northeastern border state of Tamaulipas, with some media reports suggesting that the CJNG has maintained an alliance with Los Metros, an offshoot of the Gulf Cartel.  

Given that the CJNG draws its strength from many factors, such as its strategic network of alliances, diversity in income sources, and advanced money laundering capabilities, it is far from guaranteed that its expansion will be halted even if “El Mencho” is captured in the future. 

Sources

“Capturan a la esposa de ‘El Mencho’, líder del Cártel Jalisco.” Aristegui Noticias. May 27, 2018. 

Monroy, J., Romo, P., & Torres, R. “Cae en Jalisco esposa de líder del CJNG.” El Economista. May 27, 2018. 

“Vinculan a proceso a esposa de ‘El Mencho’.” La Silla Rota. June 2, 2018. 

Espino Bucio, Manuel. “Liberan a la esposa de ‘El Mencho’.” El Universal. September 7, 2018. 

“Indictments against 11 high level Mexican drug cartel members unsealed.” Drug Enforcement Administration. October 16, 2018. 

“Justice, Treasury, and State Departments Announce Coordinated Enforcement Efforts Against Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion.” U.S. Department of Justice. October 16, 2018. 

“Otorgan amparo al Cuini, cuñado del Mencho, que alarga su proceso de extradición a Estados Unidos.” Noroeste. January 17, 2019. 

Khalil, Ashraf. “Son of Mexican drug kingpin pleads not guilty to US charges.” Associated Press. February 21, 2020. 

“Dual U.S.-Mexican Citizen Arrested For Violations Of The Kingpin Act.” U.S. Department of Justice. February 27, 2020. 

Khalil, Ashraf. “Daughter of reputed Mexican cartel boss ‘El Mencho’ arrested attending brother’s trial.” El Paso Times. February 27, 2020. 

González Díaz, Marcos. “Narcotráfico en México: por qué el Mencho, el líder del Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, es ahora el hombre más buscado por la DEA.” BBC. March 11, 2020. 

“Alleged Narcotrafficker and High-Ranking Cartel Member Extradited from Uruguay to the United States.” U.S. Department of Justice. May 15, 2020. 

Espino, Manuel & Ávila, Edgar. “Entregan despensas en Veracruz a nombre de presuntos integrantes del CJNG.” El Universal. May 16, 2020. 

Alvarado, Isaías. “DEA: estos son los 4 capos de grueso calibre que llegaron a la cúpula del Cártel de Jalisco.” Univision. June 20, 2020. 

López Ponce, Jannet. “Restaurantes, constructoras y hasta estéticas: el imperio del CJNG para lavar dinero.” Milenio. June 21, 2020. 

Alessi, Gil. “El Chepa, ‘hombre fuerte’ de un cartel mexicano, comparte la prisión en Brasil con la cúpula del PCC.” El País. July 20, 2020. 

Beittel, June S. “Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations.” Congressional Research Service. July 28, 2020. 27-28. 

“‘El Cuini’, el socio del ‘Mencho’ que busca eludir su extradición.” Unión Jalisco. September 21, 2020. 

Dittmar, Victoria. “Mexico Facing Predictable Bloody Fallout After El Marro’s Arrest.” InSight Crime. November 12, 2020. 

Camhaji, Elías. “La sombra del Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, un imperio de drogas y violencia.” El País. December 18, 2020. 

Dalby, Chris, Papadovassilakis, Alex, & Posada, Juan Diego. “GameChangers 2020: 3 Ways Criminal Groups Overcame Coronavirus.” InSight Crime. December 29, 2020. 

“Se une La Línea con el Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación.” El Heraldo de Chihuahua. February 14, 2021. 

“2020 National Drug Threat Assessment.” Drug Enforcement Administration. March 2, 2021.

“Treasury Sanctions Fugitive Associate of CJNG.” U.S. Department of the Treasury. March 3, 2021. 

Gutiérrez González, Rodrigo. “Las ‘inusuales’ alianzas del CJNG, según la DEA.” La Silla Rota. March 3, 2021. 

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Gutiérrez González, Rodrigo. “Quién es El Escorpión, El acaudalado capo del CJNG en la mira de EU?” La Silla Rota. March 9, 2021. 

Alvarado, Isaías. “La hija del ‘El Mencho’ se declarará culpable en EEUU de lavar dinero del narcotráfico para el Cártel de Jalisco.” Univisión. March 10, 2021. 

“Daughter of Prolific Mexican Cartel Leader Pleads Guilty to Criminal Violation of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.” U.S. Department of Justice. March 12, 2021. 

Ormseth, Matthew. “Daughter of Mexican drug cartel leader pleads guilty to violating Kingpin Act.” Los Angeles Times. March 13, 2021.

March: A Month of High Profile Arrests

03/23/18 (written by Ashley Ahrens-Víquez)- In the month of March, there were several high profiles arrests from three Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Each of these arrests happened in significantly distinct regions, encompassing the U.S.-Mexico border region to the central states. They may have a notable impact within their communities.

Erick Uriel “N” alias “La Rana”

Source: Facebook/Román Sánchez Núñez

Source: Facebook/Román Sánchez Núñez

Erick Uriel “N” alias “La Rana,” an alleged member of the Guerreros Unidos, was arrested on March 12, 2018 in Cocula, Jalisco in relation to the 2014 disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero. He is facing charges of kidnapping and organized crime.

Prior to their disappearance, the 43 students were on their way to a march commemorating the 1968 Tlaltelolco Massacre. According to Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR), the students were handed off to the Guerreros Unidos by Iguala local police on the orders of the mayor, José Luis Abarca. According to the New York Times, the purported leader of the Guerreros Unidos, Felipe Rodríguez Salgado, alleged that he had been ordered by Abarca to get rid of the students because they had been permeated by Los Rojos, a rival gang. The students were then reportedly incinerated in a landfill in Cocula and dumped in the San Juan River. This official account stands despite an Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts’ investigation that found critical inconsistencies in the story perpetuated by the PGR.

Family members of the 43 students gathered at the “Antimonumento” in Mexico City last Tuesday to discuss the latest arrest in connection with Ayotzinapa. In a statement, they said that the detention of Uriel does not indicate a development in the investigation, calling it a “smoke screen.” They claimed that the PGR is eager to prosecute Uriel to further reinforce their theory, thereby refuting experts and appeasing the public.

Uriel is currently being held in a correctional facility in Gómez Palacio, Durango.

Jordyn Axel V. alias “El Jordy”

Source: Especial and Mi Morelia

Source: Especial and Mi Morelia

Jordyn Axel V. “El Jordy,” was recently captured on March 15, 2018, according to the Attorney General of the state of Michoacán (Procurador General de Justicia del Estado), José Martín Godoy. The 18-year-old is the nephew of the head of Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, CJNG), Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes “El Mencho.” Axel V., a reputed sicario (hitman) for Los Viagras, was arrested along with 18 other people and has been charged with narcomenudeo (street-level drug dealing). Previous to his arrest, he was also wanted in relation to the murder of two people in 2014.

Axel V. was born in 1999 in Buenavista, Michoacán to Adrián Mendoza Oseguera and Nora Elia Villa Patricio. His father reportedly left his mother when Axel V. was young. According to El Universal, he is not in touch with his father, nor does he have a relationship with Oseguera Cervantes. He allegedly became a sniper and sicario for Los Viagras at the age of 14 and was the leader of a plaza in Antúnez, Parácuaro at the time of his arrest. Los Viagras, once a faction of the Knights Templar, is the dominant group in Tierra Caliente, located in the center of Michoacán. They are currently led by Nicolás Sierra Santana “El Gordo.”

Los Viagras reacted violently to the announcement of the arrests. Men associated with the organization burned cars and businesses throughout Tierra Caliente including a Nissan dealership and super market. They set up narcobloqueos (road blockades) along highways, threatening drivers before lighting their cars on fire. In the community of Las Cañas, alleged members of Los Viagras shot at a bus containing 40 students. Luckily, none were injured. In response to the violence, the government dispatched local and state police to maintain public security. Law enforcement seized Molotov cocktails, gasoline and firearms from the members. There have been no reported deaths in the unrest.

This is the second time in a month that Los Viagras caused disruptions within the state. After an earlier, attempted arrest of plaza chief, there were 10 hours of narco blockades within Apatzingán. In a press conference on March 15, Godoy emphasized that the governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo and law enforcement are working to apprehend those responsible.

Osiel Cárdenas Jr.

Source: Brownsville Police Department

Source: Brownsville Police Department

Osiel Cardenas Jr., the son of the former Gulf Cartel (Cártel del Golfo, CDG) leader is being held without bail for illegal possession of a firearm, public intoxication, and giving false testimony in Brownsville, Texas on March 13, 2018. A police spokesman said that Osiel Cárdenas Jr. was in a bar in Texas when an individual reported that he was carrying a gun. Before he was arrested, Cárdenas waved his gun in the air, showed patrons a Cameron County District Attorney badge, and threatened them with arrest if they did not leave the bar.

The twenty-five-year-old American citizen was on probation when arrested. In 2014, Cárdenas was arrested and sentenced to 10 months in prison for smuggling arms. Federal authorities are now filing charges against Cárdenas Jr. for obtaining a firearm through foreign commerce. His father, Osiel Cárdenas Guillen, is currently serving 25 years in a maximum-security prison in Colorado on drug trafficking charges, related to his activities as the former leader of the Gulf Cartel.

Luis Alberto Blanco Flores alias “El Pelochas”

 

Source: Especial

Source: Especial

 

The alleged leader of the CDG in Reynosa, Tamaulipas was arrested in Querétaro by local and federal police. Luis Alberto Blanco Flores “El Pelochas” or “M28” was arrested on the morning of March 20, 2018 following a report of domestic violence.

Blanco Flores was reportedly part of a CDG faction known as Los Metros. Los Metros purportedly control a strategic stretch of land along the border of Texas and Tamaulipas labelled “La Frontera Chica.” In 2017, the Mexican Marines launched an operation against the organization leading to the death of their former leader, Julián Manuel Loiza Salinas “El Comandante Toro.” In response, Los Metros set fire to cars and set up 32 blockades throughout Reynosa, in a dramatic show of force. Loiza Salina’s death, apparently, provoked an internal power struggle between Blanco Flores, Humberto Loiza Méndez “Betito” and Petronilo Moreno Flores “El Panilo.” In January, the Marines murdered Loiza Méndez in Nuevo Laredo. Blanco Flores was purportedly left as the leader of Los Metros. Moreno Flores’s current role in Los Metros is unclear.  State authorities offered up to 2 million pesos for information leading to the arrest of Moreno Flores and Blanco Flores. His arrest occurred after he and Moreno Flores went underground to avoid capture.

Flores’s arrest comes a month after the arrest of José Alfredo Cárdenas “El Sobrino,” the alleged head of the CDG and nephew of the former head, Osiel Cárdenas Guillen. Cárdenas was released after a judge ruled that his arrest by the Mexican Maries was unlawful. According to the PGR, more than 700 members and major leaders of the CDG have been arrested.

 

Sources

 

Archibold, Randal C. “Mexico Officially Declares Missing Students Dead.” The New York Times. January 27, 2015.

Najar, Alberto. “Mexico: cómo la captura y muerte del ‘Comandante Toro’ revela la fuerza del Cartel del Golfo, capaz de paralizar una ciudad por various días.” BBC Mundo. April 25, 2017.

Andrade, Mirna. “Caso Ayotzinapa: Padres de los 43 minimizan detención de ‘La Rana.’” Excelsior. March 13, 2018.

Detención de ‘La Rana’ no ayuda a localización de normalistas, señalan padres.” Aristegui Noticias. March 13, 2018.

Gang reacts violently to Michoacán Arrest.” Mexico News Daily. March 13, 2018.

Villalobos, Areli. “Con detención de ‘La Rana’ quieren insistir en que nuestros hijos fueron incinerados: padres de los 43.” Proceso. March 13, 2018.

Arrieta, Carlos. “Sobrino de ‘El Mencho,’ uno de los detenidos en Michoacán.” El Universal. March 14, 2018.

Detienen a hijo de Osiel Cárdenas en Texas.” Excelsior. March 14, 2018.

Detienen a hijo de Osiel Cárdenas en Texas.” La Jornada. March 14, 2018.

García Tinoco, Miguel.“Tras captura de ‘El Jordy’…bloqueos y quema de vehículos en Tierra Caliente.” Excelsior. March 14, 2018.

Detienen a Osiel Cárdenas Jr. en Brownsville.” El Universal. March 15, 2018.

’El Jordy,’ familiar de ‘El Mencho’ y supuesto líder viagra, entro los detenido tras operativos en Michoacán.” Proceso. March 15, 2018.

Dan formal prisión a “La Rana”, implicado en la desaparición de los normalistas de Ayotzinapa.” Proceso. March 19, 2018.

Espino Bucio, Manuel. “Detienen a ‘El Pelochas,’ líder del cártel del Golfo.” El Universal. March 20, 2018.