Daughter of Mexican Cartel Boss Guilty of US Sanctions Violations

The daughter of “El Mencho,” the alleged leader of Mexico’s notorious Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), has pleaded guilty to violating U.S. sanctions against companies with links to the ultraviolent narco-trafficking syndicate.

Oseguera Gonzalez is the daughter of El Mencho, leader of the feared Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (Credit: BaptisteGrandGrand, CC SA-BY 3.0)Oseguera Gonzalez is the daughter of El Mencho, leader of the feared Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (Credit: BaptisteGrandGrand, CC SA-BY 3.0)The recent action against Jessica Johanna Oseguera Gonzalez — whose father is fugitive drug lord Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes, and whose uncle Abigael Gonzalez Valencia is also the alleged head of the Los Cuinis cartel — reflects ongoing government efforts to disrupt the financial activities of organizations fueling the U.S. drug crisis as overdose deaths continue to skyrocket.

Oseguera Gonzalez admitted on Friday to owning two firms labelled “specially designated narcotics traffickers” by the U.S. Treasury Department. She also pleaded guilty to acting in an executive capacity at a further four companies sanctioned by the country for their ties to the CJNG.

The drug lord’s daughter faces a maximum penalty of 30 years behind bars, with sentencing scheduled for June 11.

Prosecutors charged Oseguera Gonzalez under the ‘Kingpin’ Act, introduced in 2000 and designed “to deny significant foreign narcotics traffickers, their related businesses, and their operatives access to the U.S. financial system."

Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación

The CJNG are one of Mexico’s most feared criminal organizations — and with good reason.

Their notoriety owes in no small part to their willingness for extreme violence, with beheadings, public hangings and acid baths, often broadcast via social media, all mainstays of their operations.

Since they exploded onto the scene in 2011, the group has been associated with the meteoric rise in homicides, forced disappearances and the discovery of mass graves not only in their home state of Jalisco but also across the regions where they hold interests.

CJNG was responsible for shooting down an army helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade in 2015 — the first successful attack of its kind in Mexico — and has been credited with several high-profile attacks against public officials.

This includes the attempted murder of former Jalisco security secretary Luis Carlos Nájera and Mexico City police chief Omar García Harfuch, as well as the assassination of a judge and his wife in the western state of Colima.

The organization emerged as an offshoot of the Milenio Cartel soon after the death of high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel member Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel at the hands of Mexican security forces in 2010.

For a brief time, the CJNG reportedly worked as enforcers for the Sinaloan syndicate, until their leader Victor Hugo “El Tornado” Delgado Renteria was captured by authorities in 2013, and replaced by the group’s current head, Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes.

Relations between the two organizations quickly soured, and they’ve been locked in a bitter war for dominance of Mexico’s trade in illegal narcotics ever since.

While based in Jalisco, CJNG has a presence in 27 of the country’s 32 states, with its most robust operations located in Central Mexico, including Colima, Michoacán, México State, Guerrero, and Guanajuato.

It’s estimated the group may control as much as a third of the Mexican drug market. The U.S. currently has a US$10 million reward out for any information leading to El Mencho’s arrest.

Hugs, Not Bullets

In 2019, Mexico witnessed its highest ever number of homicides, with more than 35,000 killings recorded.

While the overall level dropped slightly in 2020 to 34,523, the first half of last year saw some of the highest monthly rates since records began, with 2,585 homicides recorded in March alone.

Prior to the launch of Mexico’s war on drugs in 2006 under President Felipe Calderón, drug-related killings were believed to be limited to just 3,000 to 4,000 cases annually, and violence overall was thought to be in decline.

Military action against the country’s notorious narco-trafficking syndicates, combined with growing inter-cartel violence due to the splintering effect that arrests of high-ranking members of these groups has had, is widely considered to be the primary driving force behind the current figures.

President Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador assumed office in 2018 with a pledge to de-escalate confrontations between drug syndicates and security forces, opting instead for a policy of “hugs, not bullets” by emphasising pursuit of financial assets held by these organizations over direct military action, alongside investment in the economy and social programs so as to draw young people away from a life of crime.

Those efforts have had some success. In April last year, Mexico’s financial intelligence unit announced it had seized several assets, worth almost US$60 million, with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, and two months later the authority claimed to have frozen nearly 2,000 bank accounts linked to the CJNG — notably after U.S. authorities arrested more than 600 members of the cartel earlier in March.

However, Lopez-Obrador’s flagship policy has yet to secure any substantial or sustained drop in the level of violent crime, and other aspects of his government’s approach have attracted criticism from commentators both at home and abroad.

His recent decision to revoke diplomatic immunity for foreign agents operating in Mexico, citing questions of national sovereignty, was met with considerable alarm by high-ranking members of the U.S. law enforcement community.

Equally, many sought to question his administration’s motion to repatriate General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda from the U.S., where the former Mexican defence secretary was facing trial on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Cienfuegos has since returned to his home country, where he remains a free man.