Major financial sanctions announced against Mexico’s largest drug cartel investigated by DEA Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES – DEA’s Los Angeles Division continues to lead the global investigation into Mexico’s most violent and largest drug cartel, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) and it’s leader Nemesio Oseguera-Cervantes, aka "El Mencho." DEA Los Angeles Division indicted El Mencho on federal drug trafficking charges in 2014 and again in 2017.
A major aspect of this investigation is the U.S. Government’s ability to place financial sanctions on CJNG members and those providing financial and/or material support to the cartel. Today, the DEA Los Angeles Division and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated a Mexican magistrate judge and a former Mexican governor due to their involvement in corruption activities. Mexican magistrate judge Isidro Avelar Gutierrez was designated pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act because of his actions on behalf of the CJNG and the Los Cuinis drug trafficking organization.
Avelar Gutierrez received bribes from these criminal organizations in exchange for providing favorable judicial rulings to their senior members. Today, DEA Los Angeles Division and OFAC also designated Roberto Sandoval Castaneda, the former governor of the Mexican state of Nayarit. Sandoval Castaneda has engaged in an array of corruption activities, such as the misappropriation of state assets and the receipt of bribes from Mexican drug trafficking organizations, including CJNG. Additionally, six other Mexican individuals and six Mexican entities linked to CJNG or Los Cuinis were designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act.
“Today’s financial sanctions are further proof that when DEA works with other government agencies such as OFAC, we can deal a significant blow to violent organizations such as the CJNG,” said DEA Los Angeles Division Special Agent in Charge David J. Downing. “Our ultimate goal is to destroy and degrade drug trafficking organizations such as the CJNG and Los Cuinis. Today’s action is another step toward our goal.”
Kingpin Act – CJNG and Los Cuinis
In addition to Avelar Gutierrez, other persons designated today pursuant to the Kingpin Act have engaged in corruption activities on behalf of CJNG and Los Cuinis. Siblings Erika Gonzalez Valencia and Ulises Jovani Gonzalez Valencia have helped bribe government officials on behalf of CJNG and Los Cuinis. They also launder money in furtherance of these organizations’ international narcotics trafficking activities. Victor Francisco Beltran Garcia, a Guadalajara-based attorney, facilitates corruption activities on behalf of CJNG and Los Cuinis.
Additionally, Ana Paulina Barajas Sahd helps operate businesses on behalf of her husband, Ulises Jovani Gonzalez Valencia.
Also designated today under the Kingpin Act was senior CJNG member Gonzalo Mendoza Gaytan, who is also known as “El Sapo.” Mendoza Gaytan and his subordinates are responsible for kidnappings and numerous killings. Additionally, Mendoza Gaytan controls the Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, “plaza,” or sphere of influence, allowing him to oversee this area’s drug trafficking and other criminal activities on behalf of CJNG. Liliana Rosas Camba, the wife of Mendoza Gaytan, was also designated. Rosas Camba manages business activities and launders drug proceeds on behalf of her husband and CJNG.
The six Mexican entities designated today pursuant to the Kingpin Act, all of which are located in the Guadalajara area of Jalisco, are: A&A Estudio Arquitectonico, S. de R.L. de C.V. (architecture firm), Arquitectura y Diseno en Balance, S.A. de C.V. (architecture and real estate firm), G Y R Arquitectos, S. de R.L. de C.V. (architecture and real estate firm), Granatura, S. de P.R. de R.L. de C.V. (organic products company), Jafiela Boutique, S.A. de C.V. (women’s clothing store) and Operadora Restaurantera del Sol Naciente, S. de R.L. de C.V. (restaurant management company).
These Kingpin Act sanctions apply continued pressure to CJNG and Los Cuinis, which OFAC designated on April 8, 2015, along with their respective leaders, brothers-in-law El Mencho and Abigael Gonzalez-Valencia.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, CJNG is one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world, responsible for trafficking tons of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced heroin into the United States, as well as for violence and significant loss of life in Mexico. In 2018, DEA Los Angeles Division and the U.S. State Department’s Narcotics Rewards Program issued a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of El Mencho. Tips can be submitted to DEA by phone (+1-213-237-9990), through Twitter (@DEALosAngeles) and by email (MENCHOTIPS@usdoj.gov).
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