A US judge on Friday ordered the daughter of Mexican drug lord “El Mencho” to serve two years and six months in prison in a rare criminal case involving the Kingpin Act.
Jessica Johanna Oseguera González, known as “La Negra”, had urged Chief Justice Beryl A. Howell of the US District Court in Washington DC to release her after more than 15 months in prison so that she can return to her 5-year-old daughter. , and his eldest son at their family home in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Prosecutors had been pushing for a four-year and three-month jail term, claiming the 34-year-old California native lied about the degree of his involvement with his father, drug lord Rubén Oseguera Cervantes – still on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s most wanted list – and his drug dynasty, Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, or CJNG.
La Negra will be credited with the time spent in prison. The judge ordered him to remain on probation for two years after completing his sentence behind bars.
She almost has to pay a fine of $ 20,500, according to court records. Prosecutors had been pushing for a fine of at least $ 25,000 and up to $ 5 million, arguing that she had access to assets. Agents believe CJNG is a billion-dollar global drug network, detected on every continent except Antarctica. Her lawyer disagreed, saying she would not be able to pay a fine.
Over the past two decades, more than 2,000 people and entities have faced civil penalties under the Kingpin Act, including heavy fines and frozen assets, according to the US Treasury Department. However, criminal charges and prison stays using this law are much rarer.
During the hearing, held by videoconference, the judge granted Steven J. McCool’s request to recommend that his client be sent to an FCI Dublin prison camp in Dublin, California. Placement decisions are made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
“We are disappointed that Jessica remains incarcerated,” McCool said in an email to the Louisville Courier Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. “But we recognize that Justice Howell carefully considered the relevant factors and imposed a fair sentence.”
La Negra pleaded guilty in March to violating Kingpin Law for his association with companies linked to his father, designated as a kingpin by the US Treasury Department in 2015. This included helping with the management or promotion of his father. ‘sushi restaurant, cabin complex, tequila label, farm business and advertising agency. However, La Negra tried to distance himself from his father and his world drug empire.
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The CJNG has around 5,000 members and is violent, often accused of mass graves, kidnappings, acid baths and videotaped beheadings.
Prosecutors accused La Negra of lying to the probation officer who prepared a report on his legal and social history to the judge before his conviction. They claim to have evidence indicating that she helped provide accounting services for the “ruthless and violent” cartel at her father’s request.
They allege that El Mencho, 54, asked him to manage the resort, Las Flores Cabañas, located in the lush mountains of Tapalpa, a town in the western state of Jalisco, the headquarters of CJNG.
The witness claimed that El Mencho met his daughter at the complex in 2011 and asked her to examine the drug books “so that she could confront a cartel member suspected of stealing from the cartel,” the authors allege. prosecutors in court documents.
La Negra insists she hasn’t seen her father since she was 11 and lived in San Francisco. She said he separated from his mother in 1996 when he was deported. It was the third time El Mencho had been deported and after serving more than four years in prison for selling heroin to two undercover officers in Los Angeles.
This single mention of his father is the only reference to him in the 100-page memo from his lawyer pushing for leniency. His father, also known as “Nemesio”, is never mentioned by name and there is no reference to his cartel.
El Mencho is one of America’s most wanted fugitives, with a $ 10 million reward for helping capture him. CJNG is blamed along with the infamous Sinaloa Cartel for the bulk of the illegal drugs that saturate the United States and kill more than 83,000 people over a 12-month period ending in July 2020.
DEA agents, along with the Mexican military and federal police, have been searching for El Mencho since 2011. A state soldier and DEA intelligence analyst based in Gulfport, Mississippi, learned of the whereabouts of Baron de drugs in 2012 and shared this information with Mexican military officials.
On August 25, 2012, five Blackhawks and a Mi-17 helicopter headed for the cartel compound in Tonaya, Jalisco, a five-hour drive southeast of Puerto Vallarta. El Mencho ordered his men to stay put and shoot police and soldiers so that he and his son, Rubén Oseguera González – known as Menchito – could escape from the rear, sources say of the DEA.
As bullets rained down, four of El Mencho’s supporters were killed and three soldiers were injured.
Prosecutors say they have a key witness who would have testified had La Negra been on trial for seeing her with her father at the 2011 meeting, as well as another meeting several months after the deadly shooting with law enforcement .
The witness claims that the second meeting took place at a ranch, where El Mencho and his daughter had a discussion “about a discrepancy regarding money allegedly owed to the cartel and reflected in the ledgers” managed by La Negra. Several court documents in the case remain sealed and those that are accessible do not specify where this meeting allegedly took place or who the cartel leader blamed for the missing money.
“Ms Gonzalez admits that the entities she has partnered with have been designated to support drug trafficking and in particular the CJNG,” her lawyer, Steven J. McCool, wrote in court documents. “Ms. Gonzalez does not accept the claim that she met her father.”
The department released an organizational chart of the drug trafficking ring with photos of his father and uncle above.
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While El Mencho is on the run, agents have unfairly focused on her daughter, her lawyer arguing in a petition alleging “vindictive lawsuits” and citing the paucity of charges against her.
La Negra was vulnerable to charges of violating the Kingpin Act because she was born in San Francisco and has dual citizenship. Americans are not allowed to associate or even patronize companies that are blacklisted by the US Treasury Department. The five companies associated with La Negra, including Onze Black tequila, were blacklisted in 2015 and placed on the Treasury Department’s cartel organization chart.
Prosecutors argued that La Negra knew she was wrong because she had spent years trying to avoid Kingpin Act penalties, move the sushi restaurant and dissolve two businesses. They claim that she also renamed the resort, later called Cabañas La Loma, to try to deceive American investigators.
La Negra was surprised by her arrest in February 2020, as she was traveling from her home in Mexico to the United States to attend an arraignment of her brother, Menchito, at the federal courthouse in Washington, DC Her lawyer pleaded to keep details of her arrest and her brother’s case from jurors if there had been a trial. Menchito remains in jail for international drug and arms trafficking and is said to have been number 2 in charge of the cartel.
In her letter to the judge, La Negra pleaded for being reunited with her children and expressed remorse.
“I ask for forgiveness and say, without hesitation, that I regret anything I have done that may have caused harm,” she said in the letter.
“Today, more than ever, it is clear to me that I should have paid more attention to my actions and the consequences of my actions.”
Follow reporter Beth Warren on Twitter: @BethWarrenCJ.