Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, June 8, 2020

Mexican Drug Cartels Use Tequila to Launder Their Money

"MX" for Borderland Beat; TY to leChef
The tequila firm owned by El Chapo's daughter
Without imagining it, while Jalisco residents consume tequila in their parties, they indirectly help Mexican drug cartels hide their drug proceeds.

In 2006, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (USDT) identified four tequila companies in Jalisco that were laundering money for Mexican drug cartels. Today, Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) has found that this money laundering tradition continues to be a choice of preference by money launderers.

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), one of Mexico's leading criminal groups, uses tequila to maintain its money laundering empire. In a report originally published by the Mexican media outlet Milenio, Borderland Beat will share how tequila has been used over the years by Mexican drug cartels to launder their money. 

Fourteen years ago, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was the first government agency to detect a link between tequila companies and Mexican criminal groups. The Arellano Félix clan, who headed the Tijuana Cartel, were the ones managing a tequila money laundering front.

In July 2006, their tequila firm was sanctioned under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). The company in question was Tequila 4 Reyes S. de RL, based in Tijuana, Baja California. It was managed by key money launderer Lorenzo Arce Flores, a close associate of kingpin Jesús Abraham Labra Avilés ("Don Chuy").

Tijuana Cartel financial network, including the tequila firm (image: USDT)
Seven years later, the DEA detected that a Mexican criminal group was smuggling cocaine through a tequila company, Casa El Viejo Luis Distribuidora. This tequila company and its two parent companies, Grupo Comercial Rool and Rancho El Nuevo Pachon, used a German-based distribution company, ROOL Europe, to smuggle narcotics into the U.S. This complex drug trafficking network was managed by Los Güeros, a Guadalajara-based criminal organization. It was sanctioned under the Kingpin Act in September 2013.

The US authorities identified the Rodríguez Olvera brothers as the main operators of this cartel: Daniel, Esteban, Luis and Miguel Rodríguez Olivera. The first two were arrested and extradited. A judge from the Eastern District of New York sentenced them for drug trafficking and money laundering when they found that they were in charge of trafficking cocaine through this tequila company.

CJNG and tequila
Two years later, when the CJNG began to be a priority for the US government due to the growth and power it achieved in a short span of time, the USDT detected one more tequila company in their money laundering network: Onze Black. This company was blacklisted under the Kingpin Act in 2015 for being part of the network of companies of Los Cuinis, the financial branch of the CJNG.

Onze Black, the tequila firm owned by the CJNG's branch Los Cuinis
Last February, Jéssica Oseguera, the daughter of CJNG's leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, was arrested in the United States and singled out for being in charge of managing CJNG businesses, including vacation cabins, restaurants and tequila shops.

On June 2, the UIF froze 1,770 personal bank accounts, 167 for business accounts and two trusts linked to the CJNG, as reported by Borderland Beat. The UIF did not disclose the amount of the frozen accounts but said that they noticed suspicious transactions totaling US$1 billion.

El Chapo
When speaking of Mexican drug cartels, it is impossible not to mention Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. He was also linked to the tequila industry.
Drinks with El Chapo's face
After El Chapo met in secrecy with actress Kate del Castillo, Mexico's former Attorney General's Office (PGR) investigated Tequila Honor, a company owned by del Castillo, to trace whether there was any link with her and El Chapo. The PGR did this because del Castillo confirmed to investigators that she gave El Chapo a bottle tequila she was planning to launch to market.

However, no illicit financing was found with this tequila company. But it was not until February of this year when Alejandrina Giselle Guzmán Salazar, one of El Chapo's daughters, launched "Tequila 701" with El Chapo's facial image along with a clothing line. This tequila was distributed only in Jalisco.

Sources: Milenio; USDT; OFAC


  1. 8 people just died from adulterated Rancho Escondido Tequila in Guerrero. Adulterated w ethanol. They are trying to track down all other bottles.

    1. Smh I’ll be sticking to whiskey and beer for the time being.

  2. Salud Sicarios.
    Tequila 701 is one of the finest drinks.

  3. Everyone who has been fingering US addicts as the root cause of Mexico's crime should now point fingers at Mexico's tequila industry. Fair is fair. If you drink tequila then you're helping support the Cuinis and their ilk and by extension the violence.


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