On August 5. the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanctioned Jesus Fernandez de Luna and his cattle sales company Compañía Ganadera 5 Manantiales under the Specialy Designated Nationals List. Mexican national Jesus Fernandez de Luna engages in drug trafficking activities for the violent drug cartel Los Zetas, the recently-arrested Miguel Treviño Morales, and his brother Omar Treviño Morales.
Los Zetas leaders Miguel and Omar Treviño Morales have used proceeds from their involvement in the narcotics trade to purchase American quarter horses, and launder the money through Jesus Fernandez de Luna and his cattle business.
Mexican Navy Marines patrol the surroundings of the headquarters of the Deputy Attorney Specialized in Investigation of Organized Crime (SEIDO), where the alleged drug lord of Mexican cartel Los Zetas Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, aka Z 40, remains under investigation, in Mexico City on July 16, 2013
Mexican authorities arrested Miguel Treviño Morales on July 15, 2013.
This action, pursuant to the Kingpin Act, generally prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with these designees and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
Omar Treviño Morales established Compañía Ganadera 5 Manantiales as a money laundering front for his wife, Carolina Fernandez Gonzalez, and her father, Jesus Fernandez de Luna. Shareholders include Jesus Fernandez de Luna and his wife, Esperanza Maria Gonzalez Muniz, and its principal officers, shareholders, and original incorporators include Jesus Fernandez de Luna, his brother, Gerardo Fernandez de Luna, and his brother-in-law, Emilio Guillermo Gonzalez Muniz.
Jesus Fernandez de Luna is wanted in the Western District of Texas (Austin Division) for conspiring to conceal or disguise drug proceeds for Miguel and Omar Treviño Morales. In September 2012, Jesus Fernandez de Luna purchased four valuable racehorses for Miguel and Omar Treviño Morales through Compañía Ganadera 5 Manantiales. The U.S. Government seized and sold these horses at auction.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury also sanctioned three individuals and three entities linked to Ismael Zambada Garcia, one of the principal leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel. They include Jose Antonio Nuñez Bedoya, a Mexican attorney and notary public who helps to create front companies in order to conceal and launder assets on behalf of Zambada Garcia, members of Zambada Garcia’s family, and other members of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Nuñez Bedoya incorporated Estancia Infantil Niño Feliz and Establo Puerto Rico on behalf of Zambada Garcia, and he notarized real estate purchases on behalf of Santa Monica Dairy, all of which were previously sanctioned by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in May 2007. Additionally, Nuñez Bedoya notarized real estate purchases on behalf of Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman Loera and his wife, Griselda Lopez Perez, whom OFAC sanctioned in September 2012.
“Treasury will continue to target and disrupt financial operations linked to the Sinaloa Cartel by taking action against any facilitators, legal or financial professionals, or businesses that are laundering their narcotics proceeds,” said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin.
The cash-intensive businesses sanctioned by OFAC on August 5 were Parque Acuatico Los Cascabeles, a Sinaloa-based water park, Centro Comercial y Habitacional Lomas, a shopping mall in Culiacan, and Rancho Agricola Ganadero Los Mezquites, a cattle ranch in Sinaloa. Nuñez Bedoya incorporated and notarized all three businesses on behalf of Zambada Garcia.
Also included under the sanctions were Tomasa Garcia Rios and Monica Janeth Verdugo Garcia, wife and daughter of deceased narcotics trafficker Jose Lamberto Verdugo Calderon. Verdugo Calderon, who was killed by the Mexican military in January 2009, was widely identified by U.S. and Mexican authorities as a major financial operative and lieutenant for Zambada Garcia. Tomasa Garcia Rios and Monica Janeth Verdugo Garcia own Rancho Agricola Ganadero Los Mezquites and Parque Acuatico Los Cascabeles.
Sanctioning these individuals and entities would not have been possible without critical support from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
U.S. Treasury Steps Up Actions Against Mexican Drug Kingpins’ Financial Operators
On July 15, a week after the arrest of Miguel Treviño Morales, the vicious leader of the Zetas cartel, Treasury sanctioned two key individuals in his organization: José Odilón Ramírez Perales, a “powerful financial operative” responsible for controlling and laundering tens of millions of dollars in funds smuggled from the U.S. to Mexico for the Zetas; and Ismael López Guerrero, responsible for collecting dirty money from the Zetas operations in Nuevo Laredo and sending large quantities of smuggled cash to Ramírez Perales for safeguarding and processing in the Northern State of Coahuila.
Adam J. Szubin, Treasury’s Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), said that the fact that Treviño Morales was arrested with his accountant by his side, “is another clear example of the central importance of financial operatives within the operational structure of drug cartels.” Szubin added that the U.S. government will continue to work with their Mexican partners to target the Zeta’s money laundering operations and disrupt their financial activities.
Omar Treviño Morales is believed to have taken over as the head of the Zetas cartel after the arrest of his brother, Miguel Angel. This week, Treasury sanctioned Jesús Fernandez de Luna, Omar Treviño Morales’s father-in-law, for laundering money on behalf of the Zetas. Treasury said that Zetas leaders Miguel and Omar Treviño Morales have used proceeds from narcotics trade to purchase American quarter horses, and launder the money through Omar’s father-in-law and his cattle business. In September 2012, Omar’s father-in-law purchased four valuable racehorses for Miguel and Omar Treviño Morales through Compañía Ganadera 5 Manantiales. The U.S. government seized and sold those horses at auction.
In a separate action, in 2001, the Western District of Texas indicted Jesús Fernández de Luna and his brother Gerardo Fernandez de Luna, along with Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, on narcotics trafficking charges.
The U.S. government is also going after “El Chapo” Guzmán’s organization. On July 30, OFAC accused business partners, family members and a lawyer linked to Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, of acting as his financial operatives. Zambada is Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s top lieutenant. Among those accused by Treasury is José Antonio Nuñez Bedoya, whom OFAC described as a Mexican attorney and notary public who helps create “front companies” to conceal and launder assets for the Sinaloa Cartel.
Nuñez Bedoya denies the charges and has threatened to sue the U.S. government. Asked for a response, a Treasury spokesperson said, “Nuñez Bedoya did serve as notary at one point for all six companies. Our release is accurate and we stand behind it.”
The companies targeted by Treasury as connected to the Sinaloa Cartel are Estancia Infantil Niño Feliz, Establo Puerto Rico, Santa Monica Dairy, Parque Acuático Los Cascabeles, Rancho Agrícola Ganadero Los Mezquites, and the Centro Comercial y Habitacional Lomas. They are all based in Sinaloa, Mexico.
The actions taken by Treasury under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) bar U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with the designated companies and freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. The Treasury has imposed sanctions on more than 1,200 persons and entities linked to 103 drug kingpins worldwide since June 2000.