WASHINGTON, D.C. ― The United States of America, through its Departments of Justice, Treasury, and State announced Tuesday a series of measures to target and dismantle the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) – one of the largest, most dangerous drug cartels currently operating in Mexico.
These measures include the unsealing of 15 indictments, the State Department’s approval of large rewards, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designations, and the establishment of a citizen tip-line.
CJNG is one of the most powerful cartels in Mexico and the Department of Justice considers it to be one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world, responsible for trafficking many tons of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced heroin into the United States, as well as for violence and significant loss of life in Mexico.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the U.S. Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich, Director Andrea Gacki of OFAC, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Kirsten D. Madison of the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Executive Associate Director Derek Benner and Chief Don Fort of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement.
Founded in 2011, CJNG has grown in size and strength rapidly since its inception. Today, the DEA estimates the CJNG exerts influence in 23 of 31 (75 percent) of Mexican states, including key drug production and transportation corridors. CJNG is a powerful drug cartel in Mexico as a result of the organization’s disciplined command and control, sophisticated money laundering techniques, efficient drug transportation routes, and extreme violence. The cartel has also expanded globally, with significant presence and illicit business not only throughout the United States and Mexico, but also Europe, Asia, and Australia.
“We will continue to hammer transnational criminal organizations like the Cartel de San Jalisco Nueva Generacion, or CJNG,” Attorney General Sessions said. “The DEA has said for three years in a row that Mexican drug cartels are the single gravest drug threat that this country faces. President Trump recognizes this, and the day I was sworn in as Attorney General, he ordered me to dismantle transnational criminal organizations, including the cartels. We have been faithful to that order. Today, I am announcing 15 indictments returned against the leaders of CJNG. These indictments are our next steps—but not our last. We will continue following President Trump’s order.”
“DEA has a strong partnership with the Government of Mexico that is demonstrated in the relentless pursuit of the violent leadership of the CJNG cartel,” said Acting Administrator Dhillon. “We will continue to work closely with our international partners to bring Nemiso Cervantes aka El Mencho to justice and dismantle drug cartels like CJNG.”
Unsealing of Indictments
Today, the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of California, the Northern District of Illinois, the Southern District of Mississippi, and the Eastern District of Virginia are announcing 15 indictments, some recently unsealed, against the following CJNG leaders, financiers, transporters, and sources of drug supply:
Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka “Mencho”: Oseguera Cervantes, 52, is the lead defendant in a three-count superseding indictment returned in the District of Columbia in 2017 alleging that he is the leader of a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, conspired to distribute significant quantities of narcotics for illegal importation into the United States, and has used a firearm during and in relation to these drug trafficking crimes. In addition to the indictment in the District of Columbia, Oseguera Cervantes has also been charged with drug trafficking offenses in the Southern District of Mississippi (SDMS). He is currently a fugitive and was designated as a “Kingpin” under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act by the Department of the Treasury in April 2015.
Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, aka, “Menchito”: Oseguera Gonzalez, 28, Oseguera Cervantes’ son, served as the CJNG’s second in command until the time of his arrest by Mexican authorities in June 2015. Oseguera Gonzalez is charged in a two-count indictment returned in the District of Columbia in 2017 alleging that between 2007 and February 2017, Oseguera Gonzalez engaged a conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of narcotics for illegal importation into the United States and that Oseguera Gonzalez engaged in the use of a firearm during and in relation to one or more drug trafficking crimes. Oseguera Gonzalez remains in Mexican custody and is currently pending extradition to the United States.
Abigael Gonzalez Valencia: Gonzalez Valencia, 45, the head of the “Cuinis” organization, is charged in a three-count indictment returned in the District of Columbia in 2014 alleging that he was a leader in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, conspired to distribute significant quantities of narcotics for illegal importation into the United States, and used a firearm during and in relation to one or more drug trafficking crimes. The CJNG has flourished in significant part because of its close affiliation with the Cuinis organization, which is the primary financial support network of the CJNG drug trafficking efforts. The Cuinis organization is composed of multiple members of the Gonzalez Valencia family. The relationship between the Cuinis organization and the CJNG is cemented through both intertwined drug trafficking and money laundering dealings as well as familial relationships, including the marriage of one member of the Gonzalez Valencia family to CJNG leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes. Gonzalez Valencia was designated as a “Kingpin” under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act by the Department of the Treasury in April 2015. Gonzalez Valencia was arrested by Mexican authorities in February 2015 pursuant to his charges in the United States and is awaiting extradition.
Jesus Contreras Arceo, aka “Canasto”: Contreras Arceo, 41, is charged in a two-count indictment returned in the Eastern District of Virginia in 2017 alleging that between 2011 until March 2017, Contreras Arceo engaged in a conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of narcotics for illegal importation into the United States and that Contreras Arceo engaged in a conspiracy to commit money laundering. Contreras Arceo was arrested by Mexican authorities in July 2018 pursuant to his charges in the United States and is awaiting extradition.
Erick Valencia Salazar, aka “El 85”: Valencia Salazar, 41, is charged in a one-count indictment returned in the District of Columbia in 2018 alleging that between 2003 until August 2018, Valencia Salazar engaged in a conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of narcotics for illegal importation into the United States. Valencia Salazar is currently a fugitive and is believed to be in Mexico.
Juan Perez-Vargas, aka, “Piolin”: Perez-Vargas, 37, is charged in a two-count indictment returned in the Southern District of California in 2017 alleging that Perez-Vargas engaged in a conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of narcotics for illegal importation into the United States. Perez-Vargas was arrested by Mexican authorities in September 2017 pursuant to his charges in the United States and is awaiting extradition.
Diego Pineda Sanchez, aka “Botas” and Carlos Parra-Pedroza: Pineda Sanchez, 33, and Parra-Pedroza, 35, are charged with 28 others in a 63-count indictment returned in the Northern District of Illinois in 2015, alleging that between 2011 and September 2014, Pineda Sanchez and Parra-Pedroza led a Mexico-based conspiracy to launder more than $100 million in narcotics proceeds belonging to Mexico-based drug traffickers, through the purchase and resale of gold. The evidence in the case established that Pineda Sanchez and Parra-Pedroza laundered most of these narcotics proceeds on behalf of CJNG and its leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes aka “Mencho.” Pineda Sanchez and Parra-Pedroza have pleaded guilty to the money laundering conspiracy charges, and are facing a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. On Oct. 5, Pineda Sanchez was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison by the U.S. District Court in Chicago. The Court will set a sentencing date for Parra-Pedroza at a status hearing on Nov. 1. All other charged and arrested members of the conspiracy have pleaded guilty and have either been sentenced or are awaiting sentencing.
The following individuals linked to the CJNG have also been indicted as a result of the coordinated efforts against the cartel:
- Oswaldo de Jesus Miramontes-Diaz, 44, was charged in the Central District of California in 2015. Miramontes-Diaz is currently serving a sentence pursuant to the charges in the United States;
- Gerardo Gonzalez Valencia, aka, “Lalo,” 41, was charged in the District of Columbia in 2016. He was arrested by Uruguayan authorities in April 2016 on these charges, and is awaiting extradition;
- Jose Gonzalez Valencia, aka, “Chepa,” 42, was charged in the District of Columbia in 2016. He was arrested by Brazilian authorities in December 2017 on these charges, and is awaiting extradition;
- Ulises Yovany Mora-Tapia, aka, “Yiyo,” 33, was charged in the District of Columbia in 2016. Mora-Tapia is currently a fugitive and is believed to be in Mexico;
- Jorge Manuel Cobian-Gonzalez, 43, was charged in the Eastern District of Virginia in 2017. Cobian-Gonzalez is currently awaiting trial;
- Juan Manuel Abouzaid El Bayeh aka, “El Escorpion,” 45, was charged in the District of Columbia in 2017. Abouzaid El Bayeh is currently a fugitive and is believed to be in Mexico; and
- Alfredo Galindo-Salazar aka, “Tucan,” 47, was charged in the District of Columbia in 2018. Galindo-Salazar is currently a fugitive and is believed to be in Mexico.
Treasury OFAC Designations
Since April 2015, OFAC has announced nine designation actions totaling 63 separate individuals and entities in Mexico tied to the CJNG and the Cuinis organization. In the initial 2015 designation action, both Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes and Abigael Gonzalez Valencia were designated by OFAC as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. These Kingpin Act designation actions targeting the CJNG and the Cuinis organization are among the most aggressive and targeted in OFAC’s history against Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Based upon this series of OFAC designations, Mexican authorities were able to seize the Hotelito Desconocido, an exclusive boutique hotel on the Pacific coast of Mexico, which was controlled by members of Los Cuinis organization. OFAC designations have allowed U.S. and Mexican government officials to follow the money of the CJNG and the Cuinis organization in an effort to disrupt their money laundering activities.
“Treasury has strategically targeted leaders of CJNG and the Cuinis organizations, as well as complicit family members, criminal operatives, and businesses under their control,” OFAC Director Gacki said. “Our goal is to disrupt the cartels’ finances, which are overwhelmingly generated from drug sales that occur in the United States, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. OFAC is committed to working with the Department of Justice and Mexican counterparts in order to apply economic pressure on CJNG and the Cuinis organizations until they are effectively dismantled.”
State Department Award and DEA Tip-Line
As part of continuing efforts to cripple the operations of the CJNG, the U.S. Department of State has previously issued a number of rewards through the Narcotics Rewards Program for information leading to the arrest of critical CJNG operatives. Previously, the Department of State issued rewards through the Narcotics Rewards Program for up to the amount of $5 million for information leading to the arrests of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, Abigael Gonzalez Valencia, and Jose Gonzalez Valencia. Effective immediately, the Department of State is announcing an increase to the Narcotics Rewards Program reward for information leading to the arrest of the leader of the CJNG, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes aka, “El Mencho.” Now $10 million, the reward is one of the largest ever approved for the Narcotics Rewards Program. Additionally, the Department of State is announding a Narcotics Rewards Program reward for information leading to the arrest of high ranking CJNG member Erick Valencia Salazar, aka, “El 85,” in the amount of $5 million. Individuals with information about this organization should contact law enforcement authorities by calling 1-213-237-9990, via email at MENCHOTIPS@usdoj.gov, or via Twitter by contacting the handle, @DEALosAngeles.
“The $10 million reward for information leading to the arrest of “El Mencho” is among the highest the Narcotics Rewards Program currently offers,” said Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Madison. “This reflects the U.S. government’s strong commitment to bringing Oseguera Cervantes to justice.”
These cases are the result of the ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), and were significantly aided by coordination and support from the multi-agency Special Operations Division (SOD) near Washington, D.C. OCDETF is a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state, and local enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations and enterprises.
These cases are being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section in conjunction with DEA Los Angeles Field Division, DEA Mexico City, DEA Guadalajara, DEA Chicago, FBI New York, FBI’s Legal Attaché Office in Mexico City, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago and HSI Riverside; the Southern District of California in conjunction with DEA San Diego, DEA Guadalajara and HSI San Ysidro; the Northern District of Illinois in conjunction with the IRS-CI Chicago; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Chicago and HSI Chicago; the SDMS in conjunction with DEA Gulfport and the Eastern District of Virginia in conjunction with the DEA Bilateral Investigations Unit.
The United States would like to acknowledge the significant contributions of the Government of Mexico in their bilateral efforts to target and dismantle the CJNG. The daily coordination between the Government of Mexico with the U.S. Department of Justice, Treasury and State to target this violent drug cartel has a direct impact on the lives and livelihood of millions of citizens in the United States and Mexico.