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Jalisco New Generation Cartel Arrests in Texas: 2023

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The amount of law enforcement effort at every level (state, federal, international) to try and combat the growing global business empire of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel is undeniably extreme and well-funded.  From a criminal defense perspective, few governmental efforts in recent memory have had this zeal and scope.

In 2023, we should expect a great number of arrests involving the Jalisco New Generation Cartel here in Texas.  Why?  Consider the following.

1. September 2022: Texas Targets Jalisco New Generation Cartel as “Terrorist Organization”

The Governor of Texas issued Executive Order GA-42 in September 2022, where he identified the Jalisco New Generation Cartel as one of two Mexican cartels (the other being the Sinaloa Cartel) that are now considered to be “terrorist organizations” by state law enforcement.  For more, read: Texas Governor’s Designation of Mexican Cartels As Terrorist Organizations: Criminal Defense Perspective.

From the Texas Governor’s Executive Order: the “Mexican drug cartels are responsible for trafficking hundreds of millions of lethal doses of fentanyl into Texas … smuggl[ing] humans across the Texas-Mexico border and subject them to sexual assault, human trafficking, assault, extortion, and other dehumanizing, violent, and heinous acts; [and] … deadly violence.”

Governor Abbott’s directive is a state action.  He has the power to direct Texas law enforcement to investigate and arrest individuals believed to be involved with cartel activities involving the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.  This includes the Texas Rangers; Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”); Texas Highway Patrol; Texas Department of Criminal Justice; County Sheriffs’ Offices; and Municipal Police Departments.

Governor Abbott’s authority is confined to state jurisdiction.  Independent investigations and prosecutions continue pursuant to federal law and overseen by a variety of federal agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”); the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”); the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”); and the U.S. Marshals Service.

2. Federal Focus on Jalisco New Generation Cartel Includes $10 Million Reward

The federal government has its own aggressive focus upon the Jalisco New Generation Cartel’s activity in the Lone Star State, as well as the rest of the country.  Just one example:  the standing $10,000,000.00 (Ten Million and No/100 Dollars) reward posted by the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) for information leading to the arrest of the cartel’s CEO, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, known as “El Mincho.”

A. Past Year Has Biden Administration Targeting Jalisco New Generation Cartel as “TCO”

President Biden issued two Executive Orders within the past year targeting the Jalisco New Generation cartel, and other cartels considered to be Transnational Criminal Organizations or “TCOs.”  The first Executive Order creates the U.S. Council of Transnational Organized Crime.  The second Executive Order boosts the powers of federal law enforcement to investigate, arrest, and prosecute cartel business operations through existing federal criminal statutes.  This includes federal crimes involving drug trafficking and human trafficking.

B. October 2022: U.S.-Mexico Bicentennial Framework

In October 2022, the White House published its Fact Sheet describing the U.S.-Mexico Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Health, and Safe Communities.  This details the coordinated efforts between Mexico and the United States to combat cartel operations, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, and other crimes.

3. Fall 2022: Mexican Government’s Jalisco New Generation Cartel Arrests

Of course, the Mexican government has its own internal, aggressive strategies to curtain the illegal operations of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (also known as Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion or “CJNG”).

During 2022, Mexican law enforcement arrested leaders of several known cartels, including CJNG Plaza Boss Aldrin Miguel (“El Chaparrito”) Jarquín Jarquín, and CJNG co-founder and top Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) target Erick (“el 85”) Valencia Salazar.

This past week, headlines worldwide announced the arrest by Mexican authorities of El Mincho’s brother, Antonio Oseguera (“Tony Montana”) Cervantes, outside of Guadalajara on December 20, 2022.  Read, “Brother of One of Mexico’s Most Wanted Drug Capos Arrested,” written by Reuters and published by US News on December 20, 2022, and “US Embassy issues alert after detention of CJNG chief’s brother,” published by Mexico News Daily on December 20, 2022.

Complicated Criminal Defense in Jalisco New Generation Cartel Arrests in Texas

Obviously, there is an extensive and complicated network of state and federal law enforcement officers and agents working to investigate, arrest, charge, prosecute, and convict members of the CJNG.  And in the past year, these police actions have expanded and received corresponding executive funding.

Their orchestrated goal is clear:  first, the location and arrest of CJNG members, followed by lengthy jail sentences of cartel members.  With these arrests comes the taking of property (cash, other assets, land, etc.) under statutes allowing for restitution, forfeiture, fines, etc.

So, Jalisco New Generation Cartel arrests in Texas can happen based upon the criminal laws of Texas or the United States criminal statutes.  These arrests may or may not result from coordinated actions (e.g., task forces) of the two jurisdictions, and cooperation with the state and federal authorities in Mexico.

Cartel Charges Under Texas or Federal Criminal Laws

From a criminal defense perspective, any Jalisco New Generation Cartel defense will be complex.  For one thing, these arrests can bring individuals into either the state or federal criminal justice systems.  Defense strategies will be different depending on who made the arrest: was it a Texas Ranger or a DEA Agent?

This is because the criminal charges and ultimate sentencing will differ depending upon their jurisdictional foundation.  For instance, it is well-known that federal felonies come with complications like the United States Sentencing Guidelines and legislation that commands minimum prison sentences in some matters.  In comparison, capital murder charges can be brought with a state ADA seeking the death penalty since Texas law provides for capital punishment.

The common denominator in all Jalisco New Generation Cartel arrests in Texas, whether based upon state or federal law, is that government prosecutors will fiercely prosecute the case.

Criminal defense lawyers will expect thorny cases with a variety of charges and counts.  Plea negotiations and plea deals will be challenging, given the public position of both the federal and state governments against Jalisco New Generation Cartel operations.

Who is the Jalisco New Generation Cartel?

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel operates throughout Mexico, Texas, and other parts of the United States in a variety of lucrative and illegal enterprises, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, murder, kidnapping, money laundering, illegal weapons trafficking, extortion, theft, and prostitution. See, “Jalisco cartel now has presence in 28 states: US Congress,” published by Mexico News Daily on August 4, 2022. It is reported that CJNG controls over three-quarters of all the money laundering operations in Mexico.  Read, ”Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel controls 78% of money laundering in Mexico,” published by Vallarta Daily on October 5, 2022.

According to the DEA, the mission statement of the organization is simple:  the CJNG intends to “take over Mexico.”

Texas Gangs and Criminal Jalisco New Generation Cartel Charges

Of note, other criminal defendants not formally members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel may find themselves caught in the web of cartel-related charges if they are arrested by either state or federal law enforcement.

Both state and federal authorities are well aware that some Texas gangs have officially affiliated with the CJNG.  It doesn’t take much to find yourself to be a legal gang member under state or federal law.

A “gang” is defined by the Justice Department, citing the National Alliance of Gang Investigators’ Associations as “groups or associations of three or more persons with a common identifying sign, symbol, or name, the members of which individually or collectively engage in criminal activity that creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.”

Gangs should expect more CJNG-related arrests in 2023.  In May 2022, the Department of Justice sent five federal prosecutors from its Organized Crime and Gang Section to spend the next two years building cases against Texas gang members for cases involving violent crime and supporting federal racketeering charges.

In the Texas Governor’s September 2022 Executive Order, Governor Abbott directs the Texas Department of Public Service and state law enforcement officers not only to go after the CJNG directly, but he specifically orders them to dedicate their efforts to investigating, arresting, and prosecuting Texas gangs that support the cartel.  This includes instructions that gang assets are to be seized in an effort to “disrupt cartel networks operating in Texas communities.”

Criminal Bases for CJNG Cartel Arrests in Texas

Arrests in the State of Texas can be founded on either state laws or federal statutes.  From a criminal defense perspective, the most likely charges pursued by either ADAs or AUSAs will involve one or more of the following:

1. Drug Trafficking

Fentanyl is an illegal drug under both state and federal law.  Arrests on fentanyl charges, as well as heroin, cocaine, meth, or any of the analogues will be serious felonies either way.  Possession is serious; any evidence of an intent to manufacture, distribute, or sell will lend itself to trafficking charges.  For more, read our discussions in:

2. Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is another crime under either state or federal law that is likely to be part of any Jalisco New Generation Cartel arrest in Texas, if the ADA or AUSA can find admissible evidence to support the charges.  For more on these felonies that can end up with life sentences, read:

3. Money Laundering

Given CJNG’s reputation as expert money launderers, experienced criminal defense lawyers predict that money laundering charges will be included as often as possible in any Jalisco New Generation Cartel arrest.  Money laundering usually accompanies a number of felony allegations and can form the basis of government taking of the accused’s property under forfeiture laws.  For details:

4. Homicide

CJNG has a reputation for violence as part of its business operations.  Read, “How Mexico’s Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación rules,” written by Vanda Felbab-Brown and published by the Brookings Institute on May 29, 2022.  Homicide investigations and murder charges should be expected to rise in 2023.  Read:

5.  Racketeering

Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 contains the “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations” laws found in  18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968.   They are commonly referred to as the federal “RICO” statutes.  There is also a state RICO statute found in Texas Penal Code §71.02.

AUSAs and ADAS are notorious for including RICO charges in most prosecutions where they can allege any illegal activities involved in the complaint are related to an enterprise connected to or impacting commerce across state lines or international borders.  To learn more:

Texas Criminal Defense in Jalisco New Generation Cartel Arrests

On December 20, 2022, the DEA made it clear that there will be many federal arrests in the coming year involving allegations of Jalisco New Generation Cartel affiliation or involvement.  From DEA Administrator Anne Milgram: “DEA’s top operational priority is to defeat the two Mexican drug cartels—the Sinaloa and Jalisco (CJNG) Cartels—that are primarily responsible for the fentanyl that is killing Americans today.”

This dovetails with the earlier announcement this fall from Austin where Governor Abbott designated the CJNG as a “terrorist organization” and ordered law enforcement under his jurisdiction and control to take all steps necessary to target and arrest anyone connected with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

The flame of this fire is undoubtedly fentanyl operations.  Both federal and state operations are dedicated to halting the expanding fentanyl marketplace in Texas and the rest of the country.  Accordingly, many arrests will have drug-related charges as their cornerstone.  This could be drug possession; manufacturing; marketing; transport; and more.  Under state and federal law, fentanyl charges come as serious felonies that can bring life imprisonment.

However, other Jalisco New Generation Cartel arrests can, and will, have as many different criminal charges as possible.  Zealous ADAs and AUSAs will build their prosecution files to support a variety of criminal allegations.  Drug trafficking may come alongside money laundering and RICO, for instance.  Weapons charges may be involved, too.

And in most of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel arrests will be the complication of criminal allegations based upon membership in the organization itself.  Organized crime affiliation is against the law and comes with its own, independent felony charges and sentencing.

For anyone facing criminal arrest under either state or federal law that involves the CJNG, the criminal defense will be complex and challenging.  Experienced criminal defense lawyers are predicting a great many more of these cartel arrests and prosecutions throughout Texas in the new year.

For more, read:

 

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For more information, check out our web resources, read Michael Lowe’s Case Results, and read his in-depth article,” Pre-Arrest Criminal Investigations.”


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