U.S. Treasury Cracks Down on CJNG's Criminal Empire

News / U.S. Treasury Cracks Down on CJNG's Criminal Empire

In a significant move to combat organized crime, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed sanctions on individuals linked to the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG). The sanctions target senior members involved in arms trafficking, fuel theft, and money laundering operations. These actions are part of the ongoing efforts to disrupt CJNG's illicit activities, which include the trafficking of fentanyl and other deadly drugs into the United States.

Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian E. Nelson, emphasized the importance of disrupting CJNG's support networks engaged in arms trafficking, fuel theft, and drug-related money laundering. He stated that Treasury, in collaboration with the Government of Mexico and U.S. law enforcement agencies, will continue to target those involved in drug trafficking and criminal organizations, particularly those contributing to the production and distribution of synthetic opioids that claim numerous American lives each year.

The coordinated action involved close cooperation with the Government of Mexico, including La Unidad de Inteligencia Financiera (Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit), as well as Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM).

The designated individuals are Alonso Guerrero Covarrubias (aka "El Ocho") and Javier Guerrero Covarrubias, both senior members of CJNG involved in multiple criminal activities, including arms trafficking from the United States, fuel theft, and drug trafficking. They have been designated by OFAC pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14059 for their affiliation with CJNG.

Another individual, Obed Christian Sepulveda Portillo, previously designated by OFAC on July 11, 2022, is also part of the Guerrero Covarrubias' weapons trafficking network, acting on behalf of CJNG.

Additionally, Mary Cruz Rodriguez Aguirre, based in Jalisco, Mexico, has been designated for her involvement in money laundering. She directs a network responsible for transferring illicit funds between the United States and Mexico, facilitating the movement of drug proceeds on behalf of CJNG. Her currency exchange house, Nacer Agencia Panamericana de Divisas y Centro Cambiario, S.A. de C.V., along with a network of U.S.-based businesses, is utilized to launder illicit narcotics proceeds, amounting to over $6,000,000 between 2020 and 2022.

OFAC has designated Mary Cruz Rodriguez Aguirre and Nacer Agencia Panamericana de Divisas y Centro Cambiario, S.A. de C.V. under E.O. 14059 for their support and involvement with CJNG.

The sanctions impose restrictions on the designated individuals and entities, requiring all U.S. persons or entities to block and report any property or interests in property owned or controlled by them. Furthermore, any entities that are 50 percent or more owned by blocked persons are also subject to sanctions. U.S. persons and entities are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving designated or otherwise blocked individuals or entities.

Who is Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generation?

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) is one of the world's top five most dangerous international criminal groups. Since its split from another cartel in 2011, CJNG has experienced significant growth due to its inclination towards violence and its ability to recruit followers and sympathizers from small villages and economically disadvantaged areas.

CJNG operates with a strict command and control structure and employs extensive money-laundering tactics. It controls important ports in Mexico and has a presence in at least 22 of the country's 32 states. The cartel is led by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, also known as "El Mencho," who is currently the most wanted fugitive by the DEA. The US Department of Justice offers a reward of $10 million for information leading to his capture.

The cartel has established key distribution centers in cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta, while also expanding its operations along the US-Mexico border and in smaller cities and towns across the United States. CJNG engages in various illicit activities, with a particular focus on methamphetamine production and the importation of precursor chemicals from China and India. The cartel also manufactures and sells fentanyl and heroin, using its own scientists and experts in precursor chemical production.

CJNG has gained notoriety for its violent conflicts with Mexican security forces and other cartels. It has been involved in intense battles with the Sinaloa cartel over control of the lucrative heroin trade and smuggling routes, resulting in significant bloodshed, especially in Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana. The cartel has also been linked to numerous mass graves in southwestern Mexico and was responsible for shooting down an army helicopter in 2015, marking the first successful attack on a military asset of its kind in Mexico.

Combatting Illicit Trafficking of Drugs

This action is part of a comprehensive strategy against drug trafficking into the United States, which has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans annually. The U.S. Treasury, in collaboration with its government and international partners, remains committed to disrupting the trafficking of illicit fentanyl and other drugs, ensuring accountability for those involved.

It should be noted that individuals and entities engaging in certain transactions with the designated individuals may also face sanctions or enforcement actions.

While sanctions aim to induce positive behavioral changes, OFAC maintains the power and integrity of its sanctions by designating individuals and removing them from the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List) in accordance with the law. Detailed information on the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list can be found on OFAC's website.

The U.S. Treasury Department's actions reaffirm its commitment to combating organized crime, protecting communities, and safeguarding the well-being of its citizens.

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