Who is El Mencho? Mexican cartel boss behind one-third of drugs in the U.S.


 Just after sunrise on Chicago’s West Side, CBS News watched the morning rush for drugs. Brian McKnight with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) showed what was going on in broad daylight.

Last year in Chicago, almost 800 people died from drug overdoses. McKnight said “probably 90%” of the drugs in Chicago are coming from Mexico. The DEA is focused on a Mexican drug lord named Nemesio Cervantes, known simply as El Mencho.

“He is the number one priority for DEA and frankly for federal law enforcement in the United States,” said Matthew Donahue, the DEA’s top agent in Mexico.

He has helped uncover dozens of El Mencho drug labs in the jungle. El Mencho’s Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, or CJNG, is responsible for at least a third of the drugs entering the U.S. by land and sea. According to the Department of Justice, the cartel has trafficked “tons” of cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl-laced heroin.
El Mencho has a $10 million bounty on his head. Ironically, he lived in California some 30 years ago, where he was arrested on drug charges and eventually deported back to Mexico. That’s where he started the violent cartel. 

“He has got an enormous amount of weapons, RPGs, 50 caliber weapons. He basically has his own SWAT teams,” Donahue said.

Resultado de imagen para CJNG

From shooting down a Mexican Army helicopter, killing six, to being implicated in a public hanging this summer, El Mencho protects his empire with impunity. 

Cartel violence has led to thousands of murders in recent years. According to statistics from the Mexican government, there are approximately 94 homicides per day.

Back in Chicago, the Mexican drugs seized are so toxic, they can’t be handled without protective gear. At the lab, packs of cocaine are stamped with trafficker brands. More than a third can be traced back to El Mencho’s cartel.

“He is the one that is responsible for sending the poison that is actually killing innocent women and kids,” Donahue said.

So, when someone’s child dies, Donahue said there’s “a good chance” those drugs came from El Mencho’s organization. Last year, more than 67,000 Americans died from an overdose.

Cancun: CJNG narco war that is being fought on the Mexican Caribbean

Mexico’s main tourist destination suffers violence due to the territorial dispute of drug trafficking cartels. In recent days several people have died in attacks on bars in residential areas. This is another chapter of a story that began decades ago.

Its beaches are among the most beautiful in the world. Every year more than 6 million people visit it and it is the main tourist destination in Mexico.

But for a couple of years, a new war has been waged in Cancun and nearby towns between drug cartels and local gangs to control drug trafficking in the region.

It is a battle that became evident in recent days with two attacks that took place far from the tourist areas, but that stained the image of those destinations in southeastern Mexico.

As analysts have been warning for some time now, these types of attacks occur as part of the violence between criminal gangs to control the sale of drugs in high demand areas such as the southeastern spas.

“You can see the dispute about a drug market that is increasingly buoyant in Cancun,” specialist Ricardo Ravelo, author of several poster books, told BBC Mundo.

The 2016 National Addiction Survey indicates that in Quintana Roo, marijuana use is higher than in any other state , with 13.8% of the population (while the national average 8.6%).

It is also the third state with the highest cocaine use, with 5.8%, while the national average for the use of this drug is 3.5%.


In recent years, the groups with a presence in Cancun and the rest of the Riviera Maya, the coastal strip of Quintana Roo, are the Sinaloa, Zetas, del Golfo and Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) cartels.

Of those who have lost strength are Los Zetas, experts agree, although they still have several operational groups in the tourist area.

Between 2010 and 2014 the organization maintained control of the region, but lost it after a battle with its ex-allies, the El Golfo group.

But it is a part of the story.

At different times the organizations have suffered divisions that in turn formed their own bands or allied with local groups.

These are known as “the combos”, hitmen who do not work with a single group, explains researcher Martín Barrón, of the National Institute of Criminal Sciences (Inacipe).

Cancun's La Kuka bar

A figure that became relevant was Leticia Rodríguez Lara, “Doña Lety”, who according to Barrón and local media headed one of the main groups of minor drug traffickers.

The woman was part of the Federal Police.

The Caribbean route

But the problem of Cancun and Quintana Roo, in general, is greater than violence in the streets.

Las Virginias Bar in Playa del Carmen

Since the 90s, the region is one of the main drug entry doors sent from South America, which were thrown from light aircraft to the sea.

This method was known as “bombing” and was very common in those years.

Federal police watch the beaches of Cancun.
Since the 90s the region is one of the main drug entry doors sent from South America.

Since then the Riviera Maya was known as The Caribbean Route, recalls the specialist Ravelo.

“Cancun has always been a relief region for organized crime,” he explains.

“ Years ago, the Juarez Cartel exploded and today it is disputed by Zetas, Sinaloa and El Golfo associated with international, Russian, Chinese and South American groups.”


Since the 90s, the Juarez organization established links with Mexican and foreign businessmen, who invested the money of the cartel in the construction of large hotel complexes.

This money laundering network was discovered in an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), and the US drug agency, the DEA.

The case, known as El Maxiproceso, was one of the largest investigations in the history of Mexico.

As part of the investigation, former Governor Mario Villanueva was arrested, accused of money laundering and drug trafficking.

But this kind of cartel associations and investors still holds, even among small groups that are now at war explains Ravelo.

” Behind these new cells is a political platform that gives support, support, and protection, ” he says.

“There are mayors, aldermen, trustees and let’s not talk about police anymore. They protect criminal groups. ”

The governor of Quintana Roo, Carlos Joaquín, announced on Thursday 10 actions to improve security, such as the installation of surveillance cameras on the streets, “security arches” on roads and a new state police corporation.

However, attacks such as those in recent days stain the image of the “crown jewel” of tourism in Mexico.

Source: cbsnews, bbc mundo

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