Eduardo Cervantes Aguilar, a Mexican mayor already in the eye of the hurricane for allegedly threatening the relatives of a bricklayer who died in police custody, sparking violent protests in Guadalajara, is one of the officials who have been linked to a money laundering scheme by the Jalisco Nueva Generation Cartel (CJNG).
At the request of the United States government, the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) recently froze the bank accounts of Cervantes Aguilar, Mayor of Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos, Jalisco, according to various sources.
Other local politicians under scrutiny are Mónica Marín Buenrostro, Mayor of El Grullo, also in Jalisco, and Antonio Morales Toledo, Mayor of San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca.
The three mayors have been mentioned in the ‘Blue Agave’ operation, which ended a few days ago with the freezing of almost 2,000 bank accounts of people and entities linked to the cartel led by the drug trafficker Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias ‘El Mencho’.
This Monday, Santiago Nieto, head of the UFI, said on his Twitter account that he had met with the Jalisco prosecutor, Gerardo Solís, to follow up on the operation. “Financial intelligence, as well as the procurement and delivery of justice, have no party,” said the official.
Cervantes Aguilar and Marín Buenrostro have not commented on this.
Meanwhile, the municipality of San Blas Atempa claimed through a statement that since June 4 its municipal accounts “were blocked without notifying the institution”, for which it did not pay its staff last fortnight, which was fulfilled on Monday.
“To date the cause of the recent blockade is unknown, this administration has not been informed of the reason by any competent authority,” the statement added.
The Jalisco Cartel has a strong presence in localities whose rulers are in the sights of the Administration for Drug Control (DEA). The agency also alleges that the former governor of Nayarit, Roberto Sandoval Castañeda, was on the payroll of the same criminal organization.
It is not the first time that the mayor of Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos is linked to cartel leader ‘El Mencho’. In June 2015, a few months before taking office, he was included in a “crime map” prepared by the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR), citing the self-defense groups in Michoacán who were then considered members of the CJNG.
He was also accused of the kidnapping and murder of the former head of the local police, Álvaro Corona Piceno.
Ixtlahuacán is part of the most influential territory of the cartel in the Guadalajara metropolitan area. There, its gunmen have been facing the so-called New Plaza Cartel for a few years.
These three mayors are the first to be uncovered from a list of almost 2,000 involved in a CJNG money laundering scheme, considered one of the most dangerous groups in the world.
Several hotels, restaurants, residences, luxury cars, shopping malls, newspapers, and even a tequila brand are part of the assets acquired by the cartel to hide its illicit profits, according to the DEA. Its financial arm is the Los Cuinis group, whose bosses are the brothers-in-law of Oseguera Cervantes.
“Together, Los Cuinis and the CJNG, form one of the largest, most dangerous and prolific drug cartels in the world,” warns a federal indictment filed against one of its main operators, Gerardo González Valencia, alias ‘Lalo’, who was extradited on May 14.
“They are responsible for the trafficking of tons of illegal drugs to the United States and for using extreme violence to achieve that goal,” the court document added.