The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of six companies and five individuals linked to the Mexican drug trafficking organization Los Gueros.
The individuals designated today are key family members and associates of Los Gueros’ leaders who are acting on behalf of the organization, including Juana Olivera Jimenez, Rosalina Rodriguez Olivera, Felipe Reyes Magana, Juan Carlos Duran Nunez, and Andres Martin Elizondo Castaneda. The designated businesses are owned or controlled by Los Gueros, and/or by individuals acting on their behalf, and are suspected of being used by the group to launder their illicit proceeds.
“Drug trafficking organizations’main motivation in the illegal drug trade is making money, and they will go to any length to hide, disguise and safeguard their drug profits,” said DEA’s Acting Deputy Chief of Operations for the Office of Financial Operations, Brian McKnight. “Today’s designations will have a direct impact on the businesses owned by Los Gueros and the flow of illicit money. It strikes a powerful blow at the illegal proceeds and exposes the international businesses they used to hide their drug profits.”
“Today’s designation of Los Gueros’ business network follows the arrest and extradition to the United States of two of its leaders. This action will further damage Los Gueros’ business empire and impede its ability to reap benefits from the drug trade,” said Treasury’s Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Adam J. Szubin.
This action, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), generally prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these designees, and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.
Based in Guadalajara, Mexico, Los Gueros is responsible for transporting multi-ton quantities of narcotics into the United States. By using aliases and listing close family members and associates on the deeds of their companies, Los Gueros has been able to hide ownership interest in companies and properties for many years.
The businesses designated today include: the Mexican tequila company, Casa El Viejo Luis Distribuidora (a.k.a. Tequila El Viejo Luis); its two parent companies, Grupo Comercial Rool and Rancho El Nuevo Pachon; a distribution company in Germany, ROOL Europe; and two other related entities based in Mexico, Operadora y Administradora de Restaurantes y Bares Rudu and Asesoria y Servicios Administrativos, Tecnicos y Operativos Durel.
Today’s designation would not have been possible without the joint effort and support of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
“Transnational criminal organizations”
are only as effective as their cash flow,” said ICE HSI Executive Associate Director James Dinkins. “Along with our partners, HSI is committed to making it as difficult as possible for kingpins to disguise their ill-gotten profits behind the façade of legitimate business.”
In May 2009, the Eastern District of New York charged the organization’s leaders Esteban and Luis Rodriguez Olivera with narcotics trafficking and money laundering. According to the indictment, Los Gueros imported more than 100,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States between 1996 and 2008.
In 2007, Esteban and Luis Rodriguez Olivera were charged in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia with drug trafficking in relation to a 2006 Mexican Navy seizure of over five tons of cocaine. Esteban and Luis Rodriguez Olivera were later extradited to the United States.
In February 2011, OFAC designated Los Gueros and its four leaders, Esteban Rodriguez Olivera, Luis Rodriguez Olivera
, Miguel Rodriguez Olivera and Daniel Rodriguez Olivera as specially designated narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Kingpin Act.
Since June 2000 the President has identified 103 drug kingpins and OFAC has designated more than 1,300 businesses and individuals. 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. Other individuals face up to 10 years in prison and fines for criminal violation of the Kingpin Act pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code.
“Asked to choose between the Gulf Cartel and the Federation, they chose not to ally with either…”
Luis RODRIGUEZ-Olivera (left) was captured in December 2011. He and his brother Esteban were the controlling individuals in what has been labeled Los Gueros Drug Trafficking Organization (DTO). In December 2008, one time co-head of Los Gueros DTO, Esteban Rodriguez-Olivera, was arrested in Mexico. He was extradited to the U.S. in March 2011 and is currently awaiting trial.
Los Gueros DTO continued to operate under the sole direction of Luis Rodriguez-Olivera. Luis, then the sole head of the Los Gueros, played a vital role of cultivating and maintaining Sources of Supply (SOS) which are based in both Colombia and Peru, as well as overseeing the daily operations which once fell under the control of his brother, Esteban. Luis, in order to assure loyalty, relied heavily on assistance provided by his brothers Jose Alfredo, Daniel, and Miguel. Los Gueros have created and continue to grow a large scale distribution network throughout the United States as well as Europe.
The Rodriguez-Olivera DTO, which was originally based in Guadalajara, Mexico, is now on the run out of Leon, Guanajuato. Los Gueros are responsible for the distribution of multi-hundred kilogram quantities of cocaine into the United States and Europe. The Rodriguez-Olivera DTO has also been linked to the wholesale diversion of precursor chemicals, particularly pseudoephedrine, to support production and distribution of significant quantities of methamphetamine destined for the United States and Europe.
Historically, the Rodriguez-Olivera DTO had a strong working relationship with the Mexican Federation, a cooperating group of DTOs which occasionally share resourced such as transportation routes and money launderers. However, in or about 2005, the Rodriguez-Olivera DTO split from the Federation when Luis and Esteban Rodriguez-Olivera failed to pledge their allegiance to Ignacio Coronel-Villareal. When Los Gueros were asked to choose between the Gulf Cartel and the Federation, they chose not to ally with either.
This neutral stance was not tolerated, and neither the Gulf Cartel nor the Federation would continue to work with Los Gueros. As a result, in order to continue their operations, Los Gueros relocated to Leon, Guanajuato. Once in Leon, Los Gueros established a strong relationship with Los Zetas DTO. This relationship was seen as necessary by Los Gueros due to the fact that Los Zetas controlled the routes in southern Texas needed to transship narcotics into the US.
Luis Rodriguez-Olivera and his associates were indicted in the Eastern District of New York in 2009 for Continuing Criminal Enterprise, Importation of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute, Importation Conspiracy, International Distribution Conspiracy and a US $50 million criminal forfeiture allegation.
sources: DEA press release and U.S. Department of State