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Finance intelligence chief Nieto, left, and target No. 1, cartel boss Oseguera. Finance intelligence chief Nieto, left, and target No. 1, cartel boss Oseguera.

Finance sleuths block 2,000 accounts linked to cartel money laundering

A total of US $1.1 billion, believed to be Jalisco cartel money, has been frozen

Financial investigators have frozen the bank accounts of 1,770 people, 167 businesses and two trust funds linked to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel through a money-laundering network of front companies passing themselves off as vendors of tequila.

The amounts frozen in the operation, which took place over the last 48 hours, total US $1.1 billion. 

Activity in the accounts included the equivalent of $666 million in suspect domestic transactions, $330 million in international transfers and $137 million in US dollar cash transactions. 

The operation, dubbed “Blue Agave” for the main ingredient in tequila which is distilled in Jalisco, was carried out in cooperation with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) by Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF). 

“There is cooperation with the United States government, with the agencies. It is always an official and transparent cooperation, not clandestine or hidden,” President López Obrador said at his Wednesday morning press conference. 

According to the UIF, the investigation involved “the main leaders, financial operators, relatives, businesses, lawyers and public servants that used corruption to benefit the illegal activities of this organized crime group.”

The cartel is one of the most brutal criminal gangs in Mexico. 

The DEA says the cartel is responsible for elevated levels of violence in Mexico and describes it as “one of the fastest-growing transnational criminal organizations in Mexico, and among the most prolific methamphetamine producers in the world.”

The United States is offering a US $10-million reward for information leading to the capture of the group’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes.

President López Obrador said battling organized crime remains a priority for his administration, but “without declaring wars, without massacres, with intelligence and without allowing corruption or impunity.

Source: Milenio (sp), Associated Press (sp)

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