Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel controls 78% of money laundering in Mexico

The Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) cartel has placed itself at the helm of the Mexican drug economy, creating the most companies to launder money, and unlike other cartels, it has grown from the real estate sector, typical of drug trafficking, to diversifying into money laundering businesses. that few would suspect.

A MILENIO investigation, prepared with its own databases and reports from the United States Treasury Department, reveals that in the last two federal administrations, cartels have created 136 businesses to launder money across the country.

The money laundering paradise is in Jalisco, mainly in the municipalities of Guadalajara and Zapopan, where they have created companies that started in construction, real estate companies and beauty salons: the cliché of narco money laundering playbook.

However, since 2018 and thanks to the work of the CJNG, establishments have been created that have broken the stereotypes of cartels, going unnoticed by the Mexican authorities, or perhaps turning a blind eye, but not by the American government.

Among them are architecture offices, graphic design offices, pastry shops, tours of the Magical Cities of Mexico, among others. In the past 10 years, most money laundering businesses have moved to Jalisco, where crime has increased year by year.

Of the 136 companies that have laundered cartel money over the past decade, 106 have done so in Jalisco, 16 in Sinaloa, and the rest are spread across various entities.

Under the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, the Sinaloa Cartel began to be replaced as the king of drug businesses by the Next Generation Jalisco Cartel, which by the end of the period shared preponderance with the Chapo Mafia Guzman.

According to the Latin American Financial Action Task Force (GAFILAT), Mexico faces a significant risk due to the problem of money laundering mainly from activities associated with organized crime, such as drug trafficking and extortion.

Revenue from drug trafficking and production is seen as an important source of funds available to the country, in addition to the fact that the criminal justice system does not seem to be functioning well. Penalties for money launderers are low, that is, if caught.

Since 2014, drug traffickers have started to leave states like Sinaloa to settle again in Jalisco, like in 1980. According to documents in the United States, drug traffickers from the Sinaloa Cartel moved there by order of Rafael Caro Quintero, Juan José Esparragoza Moreno, El Azul, and later by Joaquín el Chapo Guzmán.

Among the companies detected by the United States government belonging to the Sinaloa cartel are the Constructor Segundo Milenio group, the developer San Francisco del Rincón and Prominente Real Estate, which have carried out constructions and buildings in Jalisco.

Another of the great money laundering scandals would come later, in 2017, when the United States government announced that businessman Raúl Flores Hernandez, known in the world of drug trafficking as El Tío, laundered money through famous personalities.

It ended up involving sports and entertainment figures such as singer Julión Álvarez and footballer Rafael Márquez. Among the companies involved were the Márquez football school, the Morumbi sports club, the Camelias bar, the Lucrecia bar, the Unknown hotel, among others.

During this period, at least 14 real estate agencies and construction groups, most based in Jalisco, in cities including Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Zapopan, have been sanctioned.

The second sector chosen by drug traffickers was beauty, among which were shopping stores, especially women’s clothing, aesthetics and beauty salons. Some names that were revealed were Plaza los Tules, in Zapopan, and Xaman há center, in Playa del Carmen.

The most active years for money laundering were 2013 and 2017, according to US Treasury Department documents.

However, since 2018, the strategy of the drug trade to launder money through these illicit businesses has changed: the CJNG broke the stereotypes that the Sinaloa Cartel had imposed and became responsible for 78% of all trafficking. money laundered in the country.

During this six-year term, the US government detected that the CJNG laundered money through 23 companies and, in fact, it is difficult to find a pattern: the turn of these is diverse.

There is real estate, but to a lesser extent. In the past four years, only four of them have been found, among them Arquitectura y Diseño en Libra, G y R Arquitectos and A&A Estudio Arquitectonico.

There are also music production companies and online concert ticket sales. According to the United States, those involved are Gallistica Diamante, Mexican Music Promotion and Business Ticket Premier.

There are unexpected ones: Dale Tours, Cabañas La Loma, Master Pastries and Restaurants, and the luxurious restaurants Kenzo Sushi and Bake and Kitchen.

The database prepared by this newspaper also shows that during this six-year term, the Treasury Department placed 41 people on its “blacklist”, most of them from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Cartel from Sinaloa.

2021 was the year in which more people were placed on this list, with 22 Mexicans accused of having links to drug trafficking.

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