EL MENCHO: HEAR VOICE OF CJNG LEADER as he speaks to Mexican Military officer
ABOVE + BELOW – Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, commonly referred to by his alias El Mencho, is a Mexican suspected drug lord and leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, a criminal group based in Jalisco. He is the most-wanted criminal in Mexico and one of the most-wanted in the U.S.
BACKGROUND: Meet El Mencho – an evil billionaire ex-cop running world’s worst drug cartel
Just when you get one notorious drugs lord banged up, along comes one El of a murderous successor ready to take his place.
As Mexican cocaine king Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman begins a life sentence, America’s Drugs Enforcement Administration must now hunt down an even more fearsome quarry.
A cunning billionaire former avocado grower and cock-fighting enthusiast — who was once a COP.
Nemesio Oseguera-Cervantes — aka El Mencho — is so fearless he even kidnapped the millionaire playboy sons of his now caged arch-rival.
After setting up his own New Generation cartel in Jalisco state ten years ago, he made his mark in the bloodcurdling Narcos world by dumping 35 bound and tortured bodies in the streets of Mexican port Veracruz at rush hour.
Two years later, Mencho’s men raped, killed and set fire to a ten-year-old girl they mistakenly believed to be the daughter of one of their rivals.
In 2015, his assassins executed a man and his young son by detonating sticks of dynamite duct-taped to their bodies.
Chapo’s partner Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada holds the title of the planet’s biggest drug dealer.But it is little wonder that Oseguera-Cervantes, 52, is the DEA’s most wanted, with a $10million bounty on his head.
His crystal meth, cocaine and heroin consignments not only flood the States, but they also hit the streets HERE and in Europe, Australasia, Africa and Asia too.
“He’s public enemy number one,” said Paul Craine, who was head of the federal DEA in Mexico during the 2016 arrest of Chapo.
“And he’s got an army of thousands of bad guys.”
Chapo, 61, ran the feared Sinaloa state cartel and was immortalised in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico.
He was caught in 2016 and finally sentenced last week.
After his arrest, rival drug dealers fought a vicious battle with each other to fill the power vacuum.
Chapo’s sons Ivan, 37, and Guzman, 31 — kidnapped at a restaurant by Mencho’s men in 2016 and freed after Chapo coughed up an estimated $2million — were muscled out of the way for partner Mayo to take charge.
But as a reclusive diabetic close to 70, his hold on the cartel is slipping.
And while he is seen as a survivor of the old school drug runners who abide by mafia-like codes, former policeman Mencho is the image of the new Mexican cartel don.
His cartel embraces social media as a way to announce their presence – carrying out narco-terrorist attacks, beheadings and the dismembering of bodies, for the world to see.
All the time Mencho stays in the shadows.
He doesn’t make the kind of public challenges to authority that have led to the downfall of other narcos including Colombia’s Pablo Escobar over the years.
And he never, ever touches a phone.
His foot soldiers keep order with assault rifles and wear a uniform of black balaclavas and T-shirts emblazoned with the cartel logo.
“He runs his cartel like a paramilitary,” says narcos expert Daniel Solis.
“Its arsenal, and its organisation put the regular army to shame.
“With the insight he gained while in the police, Mencho knows the power of a well-structured force.
He has publicly stated he will die fighting rather than be taken alive. He expects the same of all his men.”
Mencho rose to infamy from humble beginnings. He dropped out of school at the age of ten to work on his family’s small avocado farm.
Four years later he got a job guarding a weed crop before sneaking into California and setting up as a small-time dealer.
He and his cousin were caught trafficking and he was deported in the early 1990s.
But on his return to Mexico, he managed to hide his criminal past and landed a job with the Jalisco state police.
He left for the Millennium Cartel, an old ally of Chapo’s mob, then set up his own firm a decade ago which swiftly became known for its horrifying mass murders.
“Its method of killing is more akin to ISIS than the cartels,” adds Solis. “Never before has how they kill, in the numbers that they kill, been seen in Mexico.”
When Mencho is cornered he displays his most barbaric streak.
On May 1, 2015, the Mexican army planned to strike back at him with Operation Jalisco.
In a pre-dawn raid, elite paratroopers and federal police flown in by two military helicopters descended on a ranch where they believed Mencho was hiding.
But the cartel was waiting in armoured trucks.
One of the helicopters was hit, sending it crashing down in flames. Eight soldiers and a police officer were killed.
Hours later, Mencho ordered his men to set fire to dozens of hijacked cars, buses, trucks, petrol stations and banks — gridlocking traffic and bringing Jalisco to its knees.
The Mexican government was forced to send in 10,000 troops to secure the state.
Now, in the wake of Chapo’s jailing, the DEA and Mexican authorities are strengthening their bid to bring Mencho down.
If he were captured tomorrow, US authorities would be expected to request his extradition, as they did with Chapo.
But one DEA source doubts it will get that far.
“Mencho’s such a killer, I’d be surprised if he was captured alive,” he said.
PROFILE: Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG)
The Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG) is a criminal group that has evolved as a result of killings, captures and rifts in older cartels. It is known for its aggressive use of violence and its public relations campaigns. Despite the capture of top leaders and some emerging signs of internal division, the group appears set to continue expanding.
The CJNG emerged after former Sinaloa Cartel capo Ignacio Coronel, alias “Nacho,” was killed by Mexican security forces in July 2010. Prior to his death, Coronel gave orders to Óscar Orlando Nava Valencia, alias “El Lobo,” the leader of the Milenio Cartel. This criminal group moved drug shipments and managed finances for the Sinaloa Cartel, operating primarily in the states of Jalisco and Colima, and later extending into Michoacán and Mexico City.
By the time of Nacho Coronel’s death, El Lobo had been captured and the Milenio Cartel had suffered internal divisions, splitting into two factions: “La Resistencia” and another faction referred to as the “Torcidos” (“The Twisted Ones”), because La Resistencia accused them of giving up El Lobo to the authorities.
In the power vacuum that followed Nacho’s death, these two groups fought for control of drug trafficking in Jalisco. The Torcidos became what is now the CJNG, emerging as the successors to the Sinaloan capo’s network in the region.
Nemesio Oseguera Ramos, alias “El Mencho,” is considered the leader and founder of the CJNG, and his original top operators were Erick Valencia, alias “El 85,” and Martin Arzola Ortega, alias “El 53.” All of these men were former Milenio Cartel members.
The group has been associated with the use of extreme violence. In the period following the emergence of the CJNG, homicides spiked in Jalisco. The cartel also made it one of its early missions to battle the Zetas drug trafficking organization in Veracruz state, under the name “Matazetas,” or “Zetas Killers,” which, depending on the source, is described as either another name for the CJNG or a special cell of the group responsible for assassinations. The group claimed authorship of a 2011 massacre of 35 people in Veracruz, and a month later security forces recovered the corpses of another 30-odd apparent victims of the group.
In April 2015, the CJNG killed 15 Mexican police officersduring an ambush in Jalisco state, one of the single deadliest attacks on security forces in recent Mexican history. The group was also blamed for an attack in March 2015 that killed five federal police. Additionally, Mexican officials have previously indicated that the group possesses highly sophisticated armament, including machine guns and grenade launchers were used to conduct the March 2015 attack. In May 2015, the group continued its deadly streak, shooting down a military helicopter on May 1 and launching a wave of violence across Jalisco.
The CJNG has also been known to appeal to the Mexican citizenry with idealistic propaganda, invoking solidarity and promising to rid its areas of operation of other crime syndicates, such as the Zetas and the Knights Templar — another sworn enemy.
Since 2013, government officials have claimed on various occasions that the CJNG provided arms to the self-defense forces that purportedly emerged to combat the Knights Templar in the southwest pacific state of Michoacán — a strategic operating point for criminal groups home to a wealth of minerals and a major seaport.
Following the decline of the Knights Templar in Michoacán, the CJNG may now be looking to expand its presence in areas previously controlled by that group.
The CJNG’s assets are thought to be worth over $20 billion.
The CJNG is currently led by Nemesio Oseguera Ramos, alias “El Mencho.” For information leading to his arrest, the US has offered a reward of $10 million, one of the highest bounties ever offered. Mexico has offered its own reward of 30 million pesos ($1.6 million).
The group appears to be growing rapidly. According to authorities, the CJNG operates in at least in 22 states: Aguascalientes, Baja California Sur, Baja California, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Puebla, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán, Guanajuato, Morelos, Nayarit, Guerrero, and Veracruz, plus Mexico City and the State of Mexico. The cartel also allegedly has contacts in Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Central America and the United States, and uses these connections to traffic marijuana, cocaine and synthetic drugs. Recent arrests suggest that the Cuinis, the alleged money laundering arm of the CJNG, may have established operations in Brazil and Uruguay.
Allies and Enemies
The leader of the Cuinis criminal group, Abigael González Valencia, is the brother-in-law of El Mencho. The relationship between the two groups is unclear, though US authorities have described the Cuinis as the financial arm of the CJNG.
While the CJNG has numerous proclaimed enemies (such as the Zetas and the Knights Templar), Mexican security officials have stated that the group has an alliance with the Sinaloa Cartel. However, there have been rumors of a split since at least mid-2012. More recently, in mid-2014, authorities reported that El Mencho participated in a meeting in Coahuila that also involved the remnants of the Juarez Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) and the Zetas. This could indicate that a strategic realignment may be taking place in Mexico’s drug trafficking world, and that the CJNG may be looking to switch sides.
The relationship between the CJNG and a number of self-defense groups in Michoacán remains unclear. In the past, rumors have hinted at the alliances between the CJNG and a number of these vigilante organizations. Furthermore, the CJNG has also allegedly provided high-caliber firearms to many of these groups.
Despite relatively quick growth and consolidation of its areas of influence, the group has suffered some setbacks. In March 2012, Erick Valencia was arrested. (He was released in December 2017 due to alleged irregularities in his prosecution.) In July 2013, soldiers captured Victor Hugo Delgado Renteria, alias “El Tornado,” one of El Mencho’s deputies. In January 2014, El Mencho’s son, Ruben Oseguera González, alias “El Menchito,” was detained by security officials in Jalisco. In April 2014, Federal Police arrested a key member of the CJNG in Jalisco, who allegedly led an operation that aimed to produce and traffic six tons of synthetic drugs. On February 28, 2015, Abigail Gonzalez Valencia, alias “El Cuini,” the leader of close CJNG allythe Cuinis and principal financial operator of the CJNG, was arrested. In March 2015, security forces also reportedly killed the head of the CJNG’s assassin network, Heriberto Acevedo Cárdenas, alias “El Gringo.”
The weakening of the Sinaloa Cartel allowed the CJNG to become the most notorious Mexican cartel. However, in response to the group’s growing strength, in May 2015 the Mexican government initiated “Operation Jalisco,” aimed at restoring security to Jalisco and dismantling the CJNG. An international effort to disrupt the operations of the Cuinis — including arrests of alleged top leaders in April 2016 in Uruguay and December 2017 in Brazil — may also be hurting the CJNG financially.
Since late 2017, the CJNG has begun to display signs of internal divisions, suggesting splinter groups could challenge the main cartel’s dominance in key areas.
BACKGROUND: The New Criminal Group Hitting Mexico’s CJNG Where It Hurts
A new criminal group is challenging one of Mexico’s most powerful cartels on its home turf of Guadalajara, provoking a wave of violence in the city.
The brutal murder in March of three film students in Jalisco state’s capital city of Guadalajara sent shockwaves through Mexico and abroad. According to the official version of the incident, the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG) kidnapped and killed the students, then dissolved their bodies in acid. They had allegedly confused them with members of a rival group that, until now, was little-known: the Nueva Plaza Cartel.
The recent killing was one of many acts in a wave of violence still pummeling Guadalajara today. In just the first week of July, the city registered 13 homicides with firearms in connection with the conflict between the two criminal groups, according to police data to which InSight Crime had access.
In recent months, authorities in Jalisco have reinforced their offensive against organized crime, especially at the end of May after a group of armed men burst into a restaurant in an attempt to assassinate the former attorney general of Jalisco, Luis Carlos Nájera.
This was followed by three cartel-led road blocks or “narcobloqueos” in the presumed territory of the Nueva Plaza Cartel, in which public buses were set on fire.
To understand the scope of the Nueva Plaza Cartel and how it came to compete with the CJNG in its own territory, InSight Crime spoke with several experts on organized crime in Guadalajara. Those interviewed asked that their identities be kept anonymous for security reasons.
A CJNG Splinter Group
Many members of the Nueva Plaza Cartel used to belong to the CJNG. In fact, its alleged leader, Carlos Enrique Sánchez, alias “El Cholo,” was once a confidant of CJNG leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho.”
SEE ALSO: CJNG Profile
Events leading to their split began in March 2017, when El Cholo ordered the murder of a CJNG financial operator nicknamed “El Colombiano” in the Pacific coast city of Puerto Vallarta.
As retribution for the murder, El Mencho allegedly sent a group of hitmen to kill El Cholo, who was running his own operation in Guadalajara. However, the person in charge of the hit squad — nicknamed “El Kartón” or “El Marro,” according to sources consulted by InSight Crime — was killed by the Nueva Plaza Cartel in August 2017, before the squad could reach El Cholo. The two groups seem to have been rivals ever since.
A Guadalajara source told InSight Crime that after the CJNG division, “two areas were drawn out in Guadalajara: El Cholo’s [territory] and El Marro’s. And even though El Marro isn’t there anymore, the areas remain intact.”
So far, Nueva Plaza Cartel operations have not reached downtown Guadalajara. Instead, it controls the western part of the city and the towns of Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, Tlajomulco and El Salto, to the southeast of the city, which are in dispute with the CJNG.
According to sources interviewed, Nueva Plaza members now live in some of the most exclusive residential zones in Guadalajara.
SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles
Nueva Plaza Cartel operations are not sophisticated enough for drug production or international trafficking. As of now, their criminal economies are limited to street dealing, auto part theft and phone extortion. InSight Crime’s sources say that the cartel also lacks the military-grade weaponry the CJNG has.
Keeping a Low Profile
An intelligence source consulted by InSight Crime stated that it is not clear how many people make up the Nueva Plaza Cartel, but it is known that many members of the group played only minor roles in the CJNG, if any, and saw a new opportunity in joining up with El Cholo.
Some media outlets such as El Financiero have suggested that Nueva Plaza also has Colombian nationals among its ranks. The intelligence source InSight Crime consulted backed up El Financiero’s claim, explaining that in Guadalajara many Colombians with experience as hitmen are working in the area.
However, InSight Crime interviewed another source who said that Nueva Plaza members do not all have the same shared vision when it comes to facing off against the CJNG, and have joined instead for economic reasons.
“Just like they’re here now [with El Cholo], they can easily go back to the other side [with the CJNG],” said the source.
Nueva Plaza’s El Cholo, who also goes by the fake names Luis Emmanuel Rodríguez and Miguel Ángel Sánchez, was arrested in 2015 for cocaine possession. And Media outlet Milenio reported that an arrest warrant for a 2007 murder was also issued for him.
El Cholo managed to get out of prison under unclear circumstances, and unlike other Mexican crime bosses he has been following El Mencho’s strategy of keeping a low profile. So far, he has remained out of the public eye. In fact, there are only two known photographs of him.
“It’s difficult for people to identify him,” said InSight Crime’s intelligence source.
Rival Support for Jalisco Expansion?
Some of the sources InSight Crime consulted theorized that criminal groups that already have a foothold in Jalisco state — the Sinaloa Cartel, for example — are supporting the Nueva Plaza Cartel in order to rob the CJNG of its territory.
The Sinaloa Cartel became the predominant criminal actor in Jalisco after starting out under the Guadalajara Cartel at the end of the 20th century. The city of Guadalajara was a stronghold for ruling Sinaloa families for many years, which kept violence relatively low compared to other urban centers in Mexico. Case in point, the Milenio Cartel — from which the CJNG emerged in 2010 — was part of the Sinaloa Cartel’s criminal federation.
Guadalajara’s cartel history coupled with recent events could support speculation of an imminent partnership between the Sinaloa Cartel and El Cholo. But with InSight Crime’s sources saying they have yet to find any hard evidence of such a connection, it remains uncertain when the city’s violence will subside.
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