Federal officials doubled the reward Tuesday for the capture of “El Mencho,” the reputed leader of a Mexican cartel suspected of flooding Chicago with drugs, even as they pointed to a victory in their fight against him and his hyper-violent Cartel de Jalisco Nuevo Generacion with the sentencing in Chicago of a man who laundered cartel cash through millions in gold purchases.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the State Department had doubled the bounty for the arrest of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes to $10 million.
Authorities say El Mencho is the head of the Jalisco Nuevo Generacion cartel, formed seven years ago and now jockeying for position with the Sinaloa Cartel that was run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman until his 2016 arrest. El Chapo is set to go on trial next month in New York.
El Mencho, 52, was charged in 2014 in Washington with running a continuing criminal enterprise.
Indictments against some of the members of his cartel have been recently unsealed, Sessions noted.
“Today, we are announcing a whole-of-government effort against CJNG,” Sessions said at a news conference in Washington. “We are hitting them from all sides and with every weapon we have.”
Sessions called El Mencho’s cartel “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations on the face of the Earth.”
He said the cartel delivers at least five tons of cocaine and five tons of methamphetamine to the United States every month.
Sessions also pointed to a government success in a federal court case in Chicago against Diego Pineda-Sanchez, who admitted he led an organization that laundered money belonging to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel. On Oct. 5, Pineda-Sanchez was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
He and dozens of others have been charged in a sweeping money-laundering case in Chicago. Their organization is accused of laundering $100 million of drug money between 2011 and 2014. Authorities say they’d collect drug cash across the Midwest, buy rings, necklaces, watches and other “scrap gold” at jewelry stores in Chicago and ship the items to a refinery in South Florida, with the proceeds from the melted gold going to the cartels in Mexico.
At a court hearing in Chicago, Pineda-Sanchez, 33, testified he was under intense pressure to get the cartels their money — or die.
“They don’t want to hear excuses,” Pineda-Sanchez said, according to a transcript translated from Spanish. “They want to see results, and, if not, they shoot people.”
• ‘El Vicentillo,’ El Chapo’s ex-logistics guru, was a cartel big shot since teens, Sept. 16, 2018
• Flood of Colombian cocaine headed to Chicago, other big U.S. cities, DEA says, Sept. 30, 2018
• With El Chapo in jail, DEA and Mexico focus on other cartels with Chicago ties, Aug. 16, 2018
• How West Side bust led feds to ‘El Chapo,’ Jan. 28, 2018
• Spouses of twins who turned on ‘El Chapo’ tell story of ‘Cartel Wives,’ June 18, 2017