Friday, December 1, 2023

Jalisco brewer Minerva rejects link to fugitive narco Rafael Caro Quintero

The founder and director of Jalisco brewery Minerva and beer bar chain El Depósito has rejected a media report that his businesses were opened with illicit funds linked to fugitive drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero.

The newspaper El Universal reported on Tuesday that family members and associates of Caro Quintero opened more than 30 businesses in Guadalajara while the cartel founder and convicted murderer was serving a 40-year prison term.

Minerva and El Depósito were named among the businesses because founder Jesús Briseño is married to Roxana Elizabeth Caro, a daughter of the former Guadalajara Cartel leader, who along with other family members is on the black list of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the United States government.

In an interview, Briseño declared that “not a single peso” of Caro Quintero’s money is invested in his businesses.

“We have wealth generated from other places. We’ve been working hard for 15 years to be at the level we’re at today,” he said in reference to Minerva, one of Mexico’s best-known and most successful craft breweries.

Minerva founder Briseño.
Minerva founder Briseño.

Briseño said the accusation made by El Universal is unfounded and not supported by any evidence.

“We’ve just turned 15 with achievements and a lot of setbacks [along the way] . . . We started as a restaurant with a small brewery called Tierra de Malta, we’re five partners and we decided to take the leap and invest in used [brewery] equipment . . . to start to produce off site, since then we’ve grown little by little every year,” he said.

Minerva now produces 20,000 hectoliters of beer per year in a Guadalajara brewery with an annual capacity of 25,000 hectoliters.

Briseño said that 5% of production is exported, mainly to Japan, South Africa and Australia, and that increased brewing capacity might be necessary in two years.

“There is a lot of interest in Mexican beer so importers seek us out. We’ve developed very good relationships with some of them,” he said.

Briseño and his partners at Minerva – which also imports beer from Belgium, Germany and England – opened their first El Depósito bar in 2010 and there are now 17 branches in Guadalajara and Mexico City.

Caro Quintero’s son-in-law said there will be no further expansion of the chain in the short term because Minerva is involved in a new business venture with the craft breweries Loba and Colima.

“We’re not thinking about growing the El Depósito model at the moment. We’re opening some concept bars with other craft breweries, they’re called Tres Gallos, we already have two and we’ll probably open more with this business model,” Briseño said.

Meanwhile, Caro Quintero, who was convicted of the 1985 murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena but released in 2013 on a technicality 12 years before his sentence was due to end, remains a fugitive from justice.

The FBI placed him on its 10-most-wanted list in 2018 and offered a US $20-million reward for information leading to his capture.

Source: El Financiero (sp) 

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