Could the Jalisco Cartel’s ‘El Mencho’ Really Be a Billionaire?

Latin America

The US Drug Enforcement Administration believes that Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” the leader of Mexico’s Jalisco Cartel New Generation and the main target of both US and Mexican officials in recent years, could have a fortune as large as $1 billion.

El Mencho has lost “luxurious cabins built on a lagoon on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, more than 100 Japanese restaurants, shopping malls, newspapers, real estate, a tequila brand that tried to export to Europe, gold bars used to launder money and even a ranch where there were exotic animals, including a Bengal tiger and endangered birds,” according to a report by Univision.

Until now, the wealth of El Mencho has been unknown. Although the figure released by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is only an estimate, the amount gives an idea of the magnitude of the drug trade he controls.

“I would say he has at least $500 million and could possess more than $1 billion,” Kyle Mori told Univision. Mori is the head of the DEA team tasked with finding El Mencho. A few days ago, Univision reported that El Mencho could be hiding in the mountainous areas of three Mexican states controlled by his criminal organization.

*This article was originally published by Sin Embargo. It was translated, edited for clarity and reprinted with permission, but does not necessarily reflect the views of InSight Crime. See the Spanish original here.

“He hides in mountainous areas in Jalisco, Michoacán and Colima. We believe he is no longer in the cities,” according to Mori. Although the fortune of the Mexican drug trafficker could reach $1 billion, El Mencho is not a boss who squanders his money. “It’s very difficult to drive a Lamborghini or a Ferrari when you live in the mountains being chased,” Mori said.

Mori told Univision that El Mencho has made few mistakes. Thanks to his experience in the streets, capturing him has been difficult. “He’s an intelligent man. He’s very good at what he does. It’s like a cat and mouse game. He makes some moves and we have to make ours in order to capture him,” he said.

“You have heard stories of “El Chapo” [former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Guzmán Loera] entering a restaurant, taking away all the cell phones of those dining, paying everyone’s bills and disappearing in Culiacán. El Mencho won’t do that. He doesn’t mind living in the mountains like a rancher. That complicates his capture. Where was El Chapo captured? Always in cities,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” Profile

Likewise, the US official stressed that another factor favoring the drug trafficker is that he does not use drugs. He’s in good health and excellent physical condition due to his military discipline.

“The Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación — CJNG) perform many violent acts: beheadings, dissolving bodies in acid, public executions, tearing out people’s hearts, killing women and children, putting bombs on people. It happens almost every day. El Chapo was violent, but El Mencho has taken it to a new level,” Mori said.

The DEA fears that the CJNG is currently the largest criminal organization in Mexico, according to the 37-year-old agent, matching the amount of narcotics distributed by the Sinaloa Cartel in the United States.

“In my opinion, the CJNG is moving more drugs to the United States, is responsible for more violence in Mexico and is moving a larger volume of money than the Sinaloa Cartel,” he concluded.

*This article was originally published by Sin Embargo. It was translated, edited for clarity and reprinted with permission, but does not necessarily reflect the views of InSight Crime. See the Spanish original here.

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