Who Runs Mexico’s Jalisco Cartel and Los Cuinis?

The US Treasury Department has designated a little-known Mexican drug cartel to the Kingpin list, due to its alliance with the ascendant Jalisco Cartel. However, Mexican media reports suggest the two groups maintain a much more intimate relationship.

On April 8, the US Treasury added drug trafficking organization the Cuinis as well as its top commander, Abigael Gonzalez Valencia, to its drug “kingpin” list. The Treasury also designated the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), which earned international recognition just two days prior for reportedly killing 15 police officers in the Pacific state of Jalisco. 

These two criminal groups “have rapidly expanded their criminal empire in recent years through the use of violence and corruption,” and “now rank among the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in Mexico,” according to John E. Smith, Acting Director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The Treasury states the Cuinis and the CJNG maintain a “close alliance,” which apparently goes beyond criminal ties: Gonzalez Valencia and the CJNG’s top alleged leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” are brothers-in-laws. The two criminal groups are primarily involved in cocaine and methamphetamine trafficking and have expanded into eight Mexican states (see image below).

aCuinis

InSight Crime Analysis

The Treasury depicts the Cuinis and the CJNG as allied but distinct drug trafficking groups, yet Mexican media reports indicate the Cuinis’ leadership is in fact running the Jalisco Cartel.  Following Gonzalez Valencia’s arrest on February 28, newspaper Excelsior labeled him as the alleged financial operator and “plaza” boss of the CJNG. Citing government intelligence information, in March 2014 Mexican daily El Universal stated the Cuinis leader is in charge of the CJNG; despite the widely-held perception that El Mencho is the cartel’s top commander. Other Mexican media outlets have recently described Gonzalez Valencia as the cartel’s boss, and El Mencho as his deputy.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Jalisco Cartel

If Gonzalez Valencia is indeed the head of the CJNG, his recent arrest would be another major blow against the cartel, which has recently come under fire for the killing of over 20 police officers in the past month. Other Mexican criminal groups such as the Zetas have not fared well after being targeted by security forces for extreme acts of violence, and the CJNG may be looking at the same fate.

According to the Treasury, the Cuinis emerged as a faction of the Milenio Cartel in the 1990s. The Milenio Cartel is also known as the Cartel of the Valencia brothers, and operated in the southwest state of Michoacan. Around 2010, the cartel broke into two factions: “La Resistencia” and “Los Torcidos,” which would eventually become the CJNG.

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