Monday 26 September, 2016
Written by Luis Herrera (Report Indigo)
The Wealth of the Cartel
From its inception in 2010 until recent days, the local prosecutor’s office has seized from CJNG a lot with 211 vehicles, including seven tractor trailers, 24 real estate properties that served as operation bases. Additionally, the PGR (State Attorney’s Office) has seized an additional 160 million pesos.
Material resources and logistics used by CJNG have been exposed as a result of the battle between state forces and this criminal group. Since its inception in 2010 until 2016, the prosecutor’s office has seized from CJNG a lot with 211 vehicles, 24 real estate properties that served to carry out their illegal activities, commercial wires, and even a camp. The vehicles were seized from 33 different municipalities in Jalisco, in other words, from one fourth of the municipalities of Jalisco. This is also a representation of their territorial presence in most part of the state. The real estate properties were seized from 11 different municipalities.
On May 10, the PGR revealed that their Organized Crime Investigative Unit (SIEDO) had seized 34 properties and 139 vehicles from CJNG. The PGR reported that the value of all the properties seized is 91 million 591 thousand 466 pesos. Among these properties is the tourist hotel by the name of Hotelito Desconocido de Tomalan with a value of 20 million 601 thousand and 911 pesos. The vehicles were valued by PGR at 36 million 240 thousand and 16 pesos. According to a PGR spokesperson:
"Due to the capture of several of their main members, the PGR, through SIEDO, has seized from a criminal group that operates mainly in Jalisco, close to 160 million pesos in real state, luxury vehicles, jewelry, aircraft, bank accounts, and exotic animals.”
On April 8, 2015, when The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the US included CJNG and their allies, in their list and blocked their assets, the US Department of the Treasury assured that the cartel already had operations in the US, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
Unlike the properties seized from CJNG, there are very few municipal governments in Jalisco that have a fleet of at least 211 vehicles to carry out their security tasks, or municipal governments that have at their disposal 24 real estate properties also for security purposes. According to Mexico's National Statistic and Geography Office (INEGI), Jalisco only has two municipalities with more than 200 vehicles used for public safety; Guadalajara with 873 and Zapopan with 643 while the rest of the 123 municipalities are below the 200 vehicle fleet. There are 59 municipalities that don’t even have a single building dedicated to public safety, and 30 others only have one.
The same applies to the ability of CJNG to recruit members. On August 18, the national security commissioner, Renato Sales revealed that days prior to the operation at Rancho del Sol in Tanhuato that took place on May 22, 2015, the CJNG assembled an army of 700 armed members. In Jalisco, there are only 3 municipalities that have at least 700 police officers: Guadalajara, Zapopan, and Tlaquepaque. Since the CJNG inception through 2015, 406 of their members have been arrested.
From all the seizures of vehicles and real estate, Zapopan is the municipality where most of the seizures have taken place. Of the 211 seized vehicles, 39 were taken from Zapopan, in other words, one fifth of the total vehicles. The others cities with most of the seizures are Tlaquepaque with 27, Guadalajara with 24, Tonala with 12, and El Salto with 10. Among those vehicles, 12 are motorcycles, seven tractor trailers, as well as at least 23 luxury brands such as BMW, Lincoln, Audi, Cadillac, Bentley, Jaguar, Hummer, Mercedes, and GMC.
As far as the real estate properties, 9 were seized from Zapopan, 3 from Guadalajara, two from Cocula, Tlaquepaque, and Tonala, and one in Acatlan, Tala, Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos, Tepatitlan, Zacoalco, and Zapotlanejo. Additionally, there is a camp seized in Acatlan, two carwashes in Zacoalco, Zapotlanjejo, and a brick factory in Tlaquepaque.
The attack against the financial structure of CNJG from the Prosecutor’s Office is still very weak. Jalisco has a forfeiture law since 2011, but it wasn’t until this past August when they were first used it. Eduardo Almaguer Ramirez spoke about the two instances in which this law was used when a real estate property in Zapopan that was used during a kidnapping was seized; the second house involved a case related to drug sales in Tlaquepaque. It was not clear if these two cases were linked to CJNG.
Additionally, there is a studio and 22 more real estate properties in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara in which this law could be applied to. Unlike the PGR, the state has not proceeded with seizing any bank accounts related to CJNG, in fact, they have only seized 598 thousand 790 pesos and 13 thousand 899 US dollars. PGR on the other hand has seized from CJNG 19 million, 451 thousand 863 pesos and 621 thousand 86 US dollars in cash. Additionally, PGT seized 10 bank accounts with 2 million 753 thousand 96 pesos; 348 livestock with a total value of 767 thousand 426 pesos and jewelry worth at least 7 million 930 thousand 179 pesos.
To date, the OFAC has blacklisted 31 companies identified as laundering illicit funds for CJNG and Los Cuinis; 25 of those companies are from Jalisco and are hotels, shopping centers, restaurants, airlines, tequilas, real estate, among others. On April 4, the director of OFAC noted the following about the big network of business of los Cuinis"
“The Treasury will continue to expose and isolate the financial providers of this wealthy and powerful criminal organization and its leader, Abigael Gonzalez Valencia,”