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

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Mystery still surrounds the case of Zapopan missing call center employees. CJNG possibly involved

 "Redlogarythm" for Borderland Beat

During the last two weeks the State of Jalisco has been thrown again to the first row of the international arena for the kidnapping and possible murder of several young people in the town of Zapopan.

Initially, reports talked about seven and finally eight people going missing but during the last days a ninth case has been made public all along with the news of several corpses stuffed inside plastic bags being found thrown in a ravine in the outskirts of Guadalajara.

Chronology of Events:

According to the available information there are eight people missing:

- Carlos Benjamín García Cuevas, 31 years, whose disappearance was denounced on May 20th

- Itzel Abigail Valladolid Hernández, 27 years, whose disappearance was denounced on May 22nd

- Carlos David Valladolid Hernández, 23 years and brother of Itzel Abigail, whose disappearance was denounced on May 2nd

- Arturo Robles Corona, 30 years, whose disappearance was denounced on May 24th

- Jesús Alfredo Salazar Ventura, 37 years, whose disappearance was denounced on May 24th

- Mayra Karina Velázquez Durán, 29 years, whose disappearance was denounced on May 29th

- Jorge Miguel Moreno Morales, 28 years, whose disappearance was denounced on May 26th

- Sandra Analí Ramírez Hernández, 33 years, whose disappearance was denounced on May 29th

Although the vanishing of these individuals was reported during a period of more than week (between May 20th and May 29th) it is still not clear if they were kidnapped at once or consecutively. El País reports that Carlos Benjamín García Cuevas was the first one who vanished on May 20th and that Itzel Abigail, Carlos David, Arturo and Jesús Alfredo were kidnapped on the same day, on the 22nd.

Despite all these incongruences, the evidence collected so far by public authorities suggest that they were kidnapped during different days and connected all their cases through one main link: they all worked in a Zapopan-based call center.

This place is located on the 158th of Víctor Hugo Street in the Jardines Vallarta neighborhood of Zapopan and it was raided on May 25th (before three of the eight disappearances were denounced) by elements of Jalisco´s Public Prosecutor. In the place (which appears to be a normal residential house with no public signs denoting the activities conducting inside) authorities found different rags and clothes with possible traces of blood, some leaves of marihuana and blackboards with the names of foreign citizens, economic goals and membership mentions written on them. 

The raiding of the Victor Hugo call center was made public on the 27th. In its communique Jalisco´s Public Prosecutor Office mentioned that the place had no license or public authorization for working as a call center and that the property had been rented by an individual identified as Francisco Javier N through the services of a law firm managed by a lawyer identified as César Javier N which had been previously been investigated in 2014 and 2015 for his involvement in fraud cases. 

The 158 of Victor Hugo street, where one of the call centers was located

The next day, on the 28th, the Prosecutor´s Office made public a second raid that had taken place on the afternoon of the 27th. This time it had taken place in the La Estancia Colony, in the 260 of Johannes Brahms street. There, according to El País, authorities found a bag containing marihuana, lists with names and contacts, more blackboards with the names of foreigners written, computers whose CPUs had been removed and severed wires everywhere.

260 of Johannes Brahms street, where the second call center was located. Allegedly, three of the individuals were kidnapped here by an armed commando

Further reports have mentioned the fact that at least three of the missing individuals were kidnapped by armed men directly in the Johannes Brahms facility which played the role both of office and call center. This would lead us to conclude that the disappeared were working in two, and not one, different call centers. This would also explain the disparities in the missing dates: one kidnapping took place on the 20th and the second possibly on the 22nd.

The reports are at best fragmentary and incoherent. Although public authorities initially spoke about seven disappeared, the case of Sandra Analí Ramírez Hernández, whose disappearance was reported on the 29th, made the toll increase to eight. There is even news about a ninth individual, identified only as Juan Antonio, aged 34, who disappeared on the 22nd on his way to the call center. This would fit with the declarations of the lawyer of the families, Samuel Amir Robles, who assured that there were more than eight disappeared.

Juan Antonio. According to some reports he is the eighth victim, but considering the fact that there were already eight people missing he could very well be the ninth

Bodies are Found:

The level of awareness regarding Zapopan´s disappearances made the case soon follow the pattern of the classical Mexican massacre. First an intense campaign in social media, then journals and news agencies all over the world reporting about this new case and in the midst of all the pandemonium the families of the kidnapped victims demanding action by authorities which were almost forced by public unrest to increase their efforts.

And as it happens in these cases soon several corpses were found. In this case they were found stuffed in 45 plastic bags thrown in a remote 350 meter deep ravine in the Mirador Potrero de la Barranca area, a zone of difficult access. 

Mirador Potrero de la Barranca. The 350 meter deep pit into which the bodies were thrown, stuffed in black plastic bags

On June the 2nd members of Jalisco´s Specialized Prosecutor for Disappearances met with relatives of the missing youngsters and confirmed that several of the bodies matched the physical appearance of several of them without confirming which victims had been found.

One of the bags, evacuated from the area through the use of helicopters

By the time this text was written it had been confirmed that at least one of the kidnapped, Arturo Robles Corona, was among the deceased.

Unanswered Questions:

The biggest mystery regarding the vanishing of not eight but possibly eight people in Zapopan is the "why". Why would these people be kidnapped and killed?

The official arguments as well as the logic makes us think about it being a case related to fake call centers used by organized crime to conduct high scale fraud operations. 

The main criminal organization operating in the municipality of Zapopan, the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) happens to be the first Mexican criminal group being officially labelled as a huge illicit conglomerate conducting massive timeshare fraud schemes.

As an integral part of the real estate market, timeshare strategies enable consumers -many of them elderly- to invest a certain sum of money into buying a certain amount of "time" in order to use a property. For example, imagine a couple of recently retired English citizens. Instead of buying a house that they would be using only two weeks per year in the Canary Islands for 750,000€ they would invest 25,000€ into a timeshare investment. By doing so, for only a tiny fraction of its original price, the couple will be using the Spain-based property for only two weeks per year for the next 20 years.

This kind of investment is highly attractive not only for its considerably lower prices but for the facilities offered by timeshare companies. But as any investment, it comes with a risk and the fraud operations being conducted in the sector has increased exponentially. In September 2020 the FBI issued a public warning stressing the increase in timeshare frauds being conducted from Mexico.

March 2nd 2023. OFAC sanctions a Mexican criminal organization for the first time in history linking it to timeshare fraud activities

Three years later, on March 2nd 2023, the Treasury´s Department Office for Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) blacklisted eight companies and three individuals linked to CJNG for their role in massive timeshare frauds being conducted from cities such as Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco and Bucerías in Nayarit. Two of these individuals -Francisco Javier Gudiño Haro aka La Gallina and Carlos Andrés Rivera Varela aka La Firma- are two CJNG heavy hitters managing operations in the Puerto Vallarta Area.

April 27th. OFAC designated more individuals and companies linked to a Puerto Vallarta based CJNG enforcer cell. Some of the companies were incorporated as early as in 2012 and 2013 and at least one of the individuals was identified as a fraudster by Illinois authorities in 2016

Then on April 27th 2023 the OFAC blacklisted another seven individuals and 19 different new companies for being an integral part of CJNG´s timeshare fraud schemes. In this case at least one of the sanctioned individuals -Clemente Padilla Zárate- had been labeled as back as in 2016 by Illinois State authorities as a fraudster. This -along with the fact that one of the missing individuals, Mayra Karina Velázquez Durán, had been mixed in 2016 in a fraud activities according to State authorities- should make us ask about the possibility of Jalisco-based timeshare fraud activities being functioning since a long time ago.

One of the best investigations conducted regarding the timeshare fraud market in Mexico has been conducted by the people behind the @Libro_negro_ twitter account. As they reported in a very interesting thread, in August 2016 Jalisco´s Prosecutor Office dismantled a network of call centers focused on timeshare fraud operating in Tonalá and Guadalajara detaining 26 people. The network was very well organized: some individuals called "liners" were in charge of contacting potential victims and a team of "closers" was in charge of closing the deals. The victims were even supplied with a phone number to which, they were told, could call to denounce if the agreement was broken. Obviously, the number was managed by the organization and the complaints weren´t reported.

August 2016. The second Jalisco-based timeshare fraud is discovered when a network of call centers employing 26 people gets dismantled by the authorities. In the picture, the three individuals heading the fraud ring. Source: Crónica Jalisco

Nevertheless there had been a previous incident in which a fraudulent timeshare call center had been involved. In May 2014, after being kidnapped in the streets of Guadalajara an individual was taken to a safe house in the Colinas de San Javier neighborhood from which he managed to escape, denouncing it to the municipal police. When police officers entered the facility they found $1.001.116 in fake US banknotes and a fraudulent call center engaged in timeshare fraud. Apparently, the victim had been working in the call center and when he didn´t want to continue with the activity he was kidnapped by his employers.

May 2014, Guadalajara. Four people are captured after kidnapping an individual working in a fraudulent timeshare call center

The relationship between the Zapopan disappearances and the two call centers operating in the Victor Hugo and Johaness Brahms streets was highlighted by Enrique Alfaro, Jalisco´s Governor, in social media. In a thread posted on May 29th, Mr. Alfaro commented that "all the elements we have lead us to conclude that it wasn´t a call center but a center of operations of other nature (...) it exists the possibility of us facing Federal crimes, specially tax issues". These were the words of an individual whose predecessor in the Governorship -Aristóteles Sandoval- was allegedly murdered by the very same CJNG cell that is operating most of the Guadalajara area timeshare fraud industry.

On that very same day, May 29th, the mayor of Zapopan, Juan José Frangie Saade assured that the disappeared individuals had been working in underground call centers. "None of them had an authorization, they all worked clandestinely" he said.

Nevertheless, in declarations to Milenio, Elizabeth Hernández, the mother of Itzel and Carlos David Valladolid Hernández, assured that her sons worked in an authorized call center and accused authorities of hiding the truth.

ADVANCE: June 7th. Just minutes ago Jalisco´s State Prosecutor Office confirmed that the remains found in La Barranca´s pit belong to the individuals kidnapped two weeks ago in Zapopan.

It doesn´t matter who they were or what they had done. No one, absolutely no one, deserves to end his days inside black garbage plastic bags thrown into a ravine. Let their souls rest in peace.


  1. ELMO has been a disaster.

    1. disaster is an understatement.....he is a cancer that is laying to waste the humanity
      dignity morals and values of an entire nation!!!! He has no sense of reality or

    2. It’s it funny how the real Elmo always asked for hugs too?

    3. 722/ 1002, Explain how? Who would have been a better candidate?

    4. My bad, I stated that Jalisco was a PAN state, I meant MC. Brain Fart, I apologize for the mistake

  2. I won´t enter into discussing AMLO´s public security strategy since this is an article which isn´t focused on that topic. But you must know that Jalisco is ruled by Movimiento Ciudadano, not Morena, and the investigation of this issue has fallen into the hands of State authorities, not Federal ones

    1. ELMO never had a public security strategy , and his term is also ending soon, he can care a rats ass.

    2. That's correct but let's not forget that AMLO backed Alfaro when he was vying for the Jalisco governorship.

    3. 10:14 They've been at odds more since then.

  3. How does time share fraud work? Is this right?

    You set up call centers, backed by CJNG, so there will be no problems with police, or whomever, then sell property that does not really exist through cold calls/direct sales, or property that does exist but is owned by CJNG and will not actually be sold

    there are sites directing clients to fake properties

    The money is simply transferred directly to the CJNG operators

    low overhead, all profit almost, like kidnapping, but paying some people to make calls, and a few cases of water, or whatever, but whats the conversion rate?

    1. Giving the benefit of the doubt, there are probably all types of call centers across the city if not state.. not all are timeshare frauds

    2. Damned CJNG claims to always come to clean town of criminals 😜, yet look at what they did in this instance. Kill the citizens that helped bring in money 💰, way to go.

    3. 9:29 kinda like every cartel in Mexico. Meatriders just mad because CJNG took more then the Almighty CDS ever had

  4. Red, this is super interesting.
    In reference to the 4th paragraph ending sentences"....victim had been working in the call center and when he didn´t want to continue with the activity he was kidnapped by his employers"
    Classic cjng Mencho rule of 1. "Your members can never trust one another and to always view coworkers as potential future informants" Mencho wants workers to be in constant competition with the other and to always remember that he may have to kill his direct co-worker, not friend.
    And of course the classic, "once you join us you cannot leave, essentially they can pay you absolutely nothing and yet they know they have you because once you start grumbling about wanting to leave you reminded of what happens to coworkers who have rxpress desire to leave

  5. I should add that the mind screwing manipulation tactics are limited to CJNG, but a tactic seen in a number of tolitarian constructs.

  6. "Possibly involved" gtfoh. You know they did it thats what they do kill people that dont have shit to do with nothing.

  7. Of course it’s CJNG, they run the whole state.. and especially Zapopan..

    “We don’t mess with innocents”

    No mames guey

    1. 10:17 WRONG.....cjng doesnt run the whole state fyi

    2. 12:44 they control all the important areas but yes like CDS they don't have complete control of a state

  8. Damn these jalisca guys killing call center employees and culiacutta gn guys killing people in mcd’s

  9. Low life scumbags killing innocents.

  10. Next Administration needs to side with a More organized cartel. Not terrorists.

  11. Even legit time-shares are somewhat scammy

  12. they helped to scam old people, god doesnt like scaming old people. god let them disappear.

    1. The call center was set up to scam American Seniors. Wow 😳 then the scammers get killed, talk about Final Destination.

    2. I am ashamed to read comments like the ones posted here. Blaming people who had been kidnapped, tortured and dismembered by a criminal organization. It is really disheartening to spent time researching about such human tragedies and informing about it only to read stupid comments posted by people without empathy and in search of mere gore for God knows what kind of personal satisfaction. Today US officials made public through Milenio that this people were killed when trying to leave the call centers because they didn´t want to perform frauds. Read, inform yourselves and stop making assumptions about people you don´t know and a country you won´t understand

    3. Some of you people need violence and a dose of the real world into your comfortable scared little lives

    4. I have to disagree, less emphatic should be the goal. People are always offended fast. 2 had fraud charges, they knew what they did.

    5. Red, don't be Mother Terresa here. They all knew what they were doing. Just because they got cold feet and wanted to stop doesn't mean they are innocent angels. It is a very sad situation in every angle. Nobody wins here. Rest their souls.

  13. incongruences?? How long you been trying to work that into one of your articles? Haa

    1. Incongruencias..
      MUCH smoother sounding in Mexican..

  14. Wonder if they shorted CJNG,wouldn't do as they were told,took monies?


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