Mexico: the entrails of “Operation Blue Agave”

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The terrible secret behind the finances of the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel. While his hands are full of money, Mexico continues to be filled with violence and clandestine graves.

For decades the fight against money laundering in Mexico has been minimal, if not nonexistent. In the different administrations, whether headed by the PRI or by the PAN, the public policies to combat drug trafficking established over the last 50 years – many of them clearly simulated – had never been focused on snatching the prolific drug cartels away Mexicans their millionaire earnings. Of course, it was not out of ignorance, but because a part of that money came in the form of bribes to former presidents and/or their families, secretaries of state, governors, congressmen, politicians, and businessmen.

The bosses of different organizations were arrested, depending on the sympathies or antipathies of the government in turn, as well as their corrupt alliances, but financial intelligence was never used to take away their bank accounts, personal and real estate, and above all, they did not was dismantling the entire “legal” structure that supports each of these cartels, that is, the companies through which they traffic or launder drug money. For this reason, the arrest or detention has had little impact. even murder of drug lords, as long as their money remains untouched, the cartel will always have the possibility to continue with their illicit businesses. The criminal machinery inside and outside the law continues its course, perverting everything in its path.

The government of current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador undoubtedly has major deficiencies in its strategy to combat the powerful cartels that operate in Mexico and other criminal organizations. In terms of public security, justice, and the fight against poverty, there is no clear or effective strategy, the numbers of homicides, of disappearances, and cases of abuse of authority by the Mexican Army and now the National Guard – a substitute for the monstrous Federal Police- continue. Now at least they don’t hide it, but they continue.

DW Kolumne Anabel Hernández
Anabel Hernandez

But there is an area in the AMLO government that is setting a precedent and a watershed not only in Mexico but even in all parts of the continent where the Mexican cartels have great influence. It is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit directed by Dr. Santiago Nieto with a valuable team of collaborators, who have proposed the titanic mission of closing the key of money and money laundering instruments to as many criminal organizations as possible.

In 2020 they have developed a program that is known as “Operation Blue Agave”, which should undoubtedly become a research model to combat money laundering throughout the continent. The name is not accidental. The blue agave is a plant cactus from which the internationally famous Mexican tequila is produced, whose main place of production is the state of Jalisco.

The objective of the “Blue Agave Operation” was to strike a blow at the financial nucleus of the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG), which although it is not the most important cartel in Mexico, it is one of the most violent and is In addition, in a stage of territorial extension, until now the story behind the operation is unknown and here I narrate it.

Through intelligence sources the rumor reached the governments of the United States and Mexico that Nemesio Oceguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho”, was very ill and could die in a short time, unleashing within the cartel a heartless war that would increase the level of violence in Mexico.

To prevent the possible successors of “El Mencho” from having money for the war of succession, both governments collaborated to locate at least part of the monetary resources of the organization, freeze them, and thus try to contain that war in the making.

In a useful exchange of sensitive information between the FIU and the US anti-drug agency DEA, data was crossed and 1,669 people related to the CJNG were located, not only “El Mencho” and his family, but also all of his collateral relationships This revealed the map of an immense network through which the cartel launches its illicit money.

Symbolbilder |  Mexiko |  Top-mexikanischer Drogenkönig El Mencho baut ein eigenes privates Krankenhaus

With that list, the FIU set about locating those people through all the financial data banks to which it has access. This is how he discovered the ten main states -of 32 that make up Mexico- where these financial ‘soldiers’ of the cartel operate. Beyond the name of the criminal organization, it was the State of Jalisco, whose current governor is Enrique Alfaro, where it was found that these people carried out more than 60 percent of financial operations. 

Second is Mexico City, whose governor is Claudia Sheinbaum. Then follow Michoacán, State of Mexico, Baja California, Guanajuato, Nuevo León, Veracruz, Nayarit, and Sinaloa -in the same position- and Quintana Roo.

Thus, the names of people and companies that carried out “unusual” financial operations for 2,251 million pesos (105 million dollars), “relevant” financial operations for 11,478 million pesos (532 million dollars), and international transfers of 3,178 million pesos were detected. pesos (148 million dollars). 

Even with the narrow legal resources available to the FIU, which are used to their full potential, it was possible to freeze about 1.3 billion pesos (60 million dollars) on May 29, 2020. A sure hit, without a doubt, although the support of the Attorney General’s Office headed by Alejandro Gertz Manero and the Judicial Power is lacking to convert this “Operation Blue Agave” into criminal sanctions against the cartel’s money launderers.

But beyond the monumental money laundering figures of the CJNG and the financial penetration of the cartel in Jalisco and at the national level, the FIU discovered a terrifying thing in its investigation, which has been my hypothesis during the last 15 years that I have been investigating the drug cartels in Mexico, particularly the Sinaloa Cartel.

And what he discovered is that if the government of Mexico freezes the accounts of all the companies linked to the CJNG, a good part of the economy of the State of Jalisco would be paralyzed, affecting the salary and jobs of thousands and thousands of people. In other words, the penetration of money from this and many other cartels is of such a level that a good part of that economy depends on the flows of criminal money.

This has been my hypothesis when I analyze the almost zero fight against money laundering in the world. The secret found behind the finances of the CJNG by the FIU would apply to many other criminal organizations in Mexico and the world. What would the real economy of the voyant State of Jalisco be without the money of “El Mencho” and his accomplices? What would the real economy of the world be without the bloody, dirty money of criminal organizations? That fictional economy where the profits of Dirty money is left in small groups that concentrate power, is it useful? For whom? While their hands are full of money, Mexico continues to be filled with violence and clandestine graves.

Source: dw.com/es/méxico

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