United States sanctions cartel operator in Puerto Vallarta

Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Mexican nationals Aldrin Miguel Jarquin Jarquin, Jose Jesus Jarquin Jarquin, Cesar Enrique Diaz De Leon Sauceda, and Fernando Zagal Anton pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). These four individuals are members of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) operating through the port of Manzanillo in Colima, Mexico, and the surrounding areas. CJNG, a violent Mexico-based organization, is responsible for trafficking a significant proportion of fentanyl and other deadly drugs that enter the United States. Today’s action is the result of a collaboration between OFAC, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF).

“CJNG’s criminal success is partly due to its influence over strategic locations, such as Manzanillo,” said OFAC Director Andrea M. Gacki. “This Pacific coast port serves as a significant gateway for Colombian cocaine and precursor chemicals imported from Asia, including those used to synthesize fentanyl for ultimate distribution in the United States. Treasury is committed to working with partners in the U.S. and Mexican governments to expose, isolate, and disrupt CJNG members operating in Manzanillo and elsewhere.”

Background on Designated Individuals

Today OFAC designated brothers Aldrin Miguel Jarquin Jarquin (a.k.a. “Chaparrito”) and Jose Jesus Jarquin Jarquin (a.k.a. “R32”), as well as Cesar Enrique Diaz De Leon Sauceda (a.k.a. “Lobito”), who are among the most senior CJNG members operating in Manzanillo and elsewhere in the Mexican state of Colima. In June 2020, the UIF blocked these individuals’ Mexican bank accounts due to their support for CJNG.

The other individual designated today, Fernando Zagal Anton of Puerto Vallarta, is subordinate to these three individuals. OFAC designated them pursuant to the Kingpin Act because they are foreign persons materially assisting in, or providing financial or technological support for or to, or providing goods or services in support of, CJNG. Together, they help coordinate CJNG’s drug trafficking operations through the port of Manzanillo and maintain contact with cocaine sources of supply in Colombia.

Today’s designees have links to previously designated individuals. They report to Julio Alberto Castillo Rodriguez, the son-in-law of CJNG leader Ruben Oseguera Cervantes (a.k.a. “Mencho”). OFAC designated Julio Alberto Castillo Rodriguez on October 27, 2016. Additionally, today’s designees coordinate with Carlos Andres Rivera Varela (a.k.a. “La Firma”) and Francisco Javier Gudino Haro (a.k.a. “La Gallina”), who OFAC designated on April 6, 2021. Carlos Andres Rivera Varela and Francisco Javier Gudino Haro lead a CJNG enforcement group that has helped orchestrate assassinations of rivals and politicians using high-powered weaponry. These two violent individuals are also linked to Gonzalo Mendoza Gaytan (a.k.a. “El Sapo”), a senior CJNG member who has acted as the plaza boss for Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico.

CJNG’s expansion and control of strategic drug trafficking territory, including the state of Colima and its port of Manzanillo, has come in part through violence against rivals and Mexican government officials. For example, CJNG was responsible for the June 2020 murder of a Mexican federal judge in Colima. Colima has one of Mexico’s highest per capita homicide rates, fueled in part by the CJNG’s local drug trafficking operations.

Previous U.S. Government Actions Against CJNG and Los Cuinis

Today’s Kingpin Act designations mark OFAC’s fifteenth action against CJNG, which was designated on April 8, 2015, along with its leader, Ruben Oseguera Cervantes (a.k.a. “Mencho”), for playing a significant role in international narcotics trafficking. The U.S. Department of State’s Narcotics Rewards Program has issued a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Ruben Oseguera Cervantes.

In previous actions, OFAC designated a wide range of businesses and individuals linked to CJNG and its close ally, the Los Cuinis Drug Trafficking Organization. The previously designated businesses in Mexico include shopping centers, real estate companies, agricultural companies, a music promotion business, and a luxury boutique hotel. Many of these Mexican entities have engaged in the laundering of drug proceeds and represent attempts by CJNG and Los Cuinis to integrate their illicit profits into the legitimate economy. Among the sanctioned individuals are those who play critical roles in CJNG’s drug trafficking activities, including money laundering, and those who facilitate corruption activities on behalf of CJNG and Los Cuinis.

Sanctions Implications

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated individuals or entities that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or persons within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.

Since June 2000, more than 2,200 entities and individuals have been sanctioned pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1,548,075 per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.

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