Mexico: Extradition, Gold AKs and Bearded Ladies

It’s been an eventful week for Mexico, with the extradition of two high-profile cartel members to the US, threats made against a national newspaper by organised criminals and the seizure of a gold-plated assault rifle from the leader of a murderous syndicate calling themselves ‘The Women with Moustaches.’

Gerardo González Valencia, who has been extradited from Uruguay to face charges in the US, is a leading member of the Cartel De Jalisco Nueva Generacion (Photo: BaptisteGrandGrand, CC SA-BY 3.0)Gerardo González Valencia, who has been extradited from Uruguay to face charges in the US, is a leading member of the Cartel De Jalisco Nueva Generacion (Photo: BaptisteGrandGrand, CC SA-BY 3.0)In the early hours of Thursday, authorities extradited one of the leaders of a powerful Mexican criminal organisation to the US from Uruguay, under heavy guard.

“Today, after 4 years, the extradition of Gerardo González Valencia was finalized,” said Uruguay's Interior Minister Jorge Larranaga in a tweet. “Beyond demonstrating the strength of international cooperation, it also shows that the Uruguayan state is pushing ahead in a fight that has no borders.”

Known to his associates as ‘Lalo’, prosecutors with the District of Columbia in the US indicted González Valencia in 2016 on drug trafficking charges.

He is a leading member of Los Cuinis, the finance and money-laundering division of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG).

The CJNG is one of the most powerful and violent drug cartels in Mexico, and considered by the Department of Justice as one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.

Media outlet Subrayado reported that González Valencia had lived in Uruguay since 2011, where he had significant investments in the cities of Montevideo and Punta del Este.

Authorities in the country investigated several of his properties following the Panama Papers leak, in which it was revealed he had purchased the sites through corporations created by the disgraced firm Mossack Fonseca, according to El Pais.

González Valencia’s transfer followed after Mexico extradited Jorge Luis Sanchez Morales, alleged former leader of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel’s operations in the state of Juarez, to the US on Monday to face drug trafficking charges in Texas.

CJNG are known to be fierce rivals of the Sinaloa Cartel, with the rising violence in Jalisco over the last few years widely attributed to the younger cartel asserting its presence in the region.

OCCRP reported on Tuesday that authorities in the southwestern state had unearthed more than 115 bodies from clandestine graves in the past year alone.

The Sinaloa Cartel also made headlines on Thursday when a man claiming to be a deputy within the organisation put in a call to Reforma newspaper.

The supposed criminal leader threatened to bomb the paper’s head office if it did not retract its criticism of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, who appears to have earned the cartel’s respect, according to news site Aristegui.

“Tell him [the editor] that he must not slander the president of the Republic, that he is betraying the homeland, because, if he does, the office over there of his fucking newspaper, tell him, we are going to blow them up,” the man reportedly said.

Meanwhile, in the city of Tehuacan in the central state of Puebla, police seized a gold-plated, diamond-encrusted AR-15 assault rifle from the leader of a gang known as Las Bigotonas - loosely, ‘The Women with Moustaches’.

Further decorated with a carving of Santa Muerte - ‘Our Lady of Death’, to whom drug traffickers offer prayer for the safe delivery of cargo - authorities took the gun from cartel head Victor “El Yori” Ivan, whom they arrested in further possession of almost 40 bags of crystal meth.