“Morogris” for Borderland Beat
|Many of the criminal doings of Gerardo González Valencia were leaked in 2015 through the Panama Papers, where it detailed real estate transactions and industrial sector investments of the CJNG and Los Cuinis across the globe|
Gerardo González Valencia (alias El Lalo), former high-ranking member of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and its sister organization Los Cuinis, was sentenced to life imprisonment today in the US for drug trafficking.
According to court documents, Gerardo was involved in multi-ton shipments of narcotics from Mexico and elsewhere into the US from 2003 to 2016. This included the confiscation of around 280 kilograms of cocaine found in a semi-submersible vessel intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and 750 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside frozen shark carcasses intended for transportation to the United States.
While running his criminal empire, Gerardo was responsible for coordinating international money laundering schemes by using shell companies to purchase real estate assets in Latin America, Europe, and Asia for the CJNG and Los Cuinis. His wife Wendy Dalaithy Amaral Arevalo was reportedly working with him on this large money laundering scheme when the couple lived in Mexico and South America.
“Gonzalez-Valencia’s prosecution marks another step in the Justice Department’s pursuit of the top leadership of drug-trafficking organizations like Los Cuinis and the CJNG,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
“The significant sentence imposed today also reflects the magnitude of harm these drug-trafficking organizations wreak on our communities. The Criminal Division will continue to hold accountable those like Gonzalez-Valencia, who profit from importing large quantities of dangerous substances into the United States and who support the extraordinary violence committed in furtherance of that objective.”
Gerardo González Valencia is part of a large clan of at least 18 siblings, many of them who were suspected or are suspected of being involved in drug trafficking. People in their hometown in Michoacan nicknamed the clan “Cuinis” in reference to a squirrel (spermophilus adocetus) from the area that is known as “Cuinique”. It is common for this squirrel to have over a dozen babies each time the mother gives birth.
Gerardo first captured the attention of US investigators in the 1990s when he was linked to a drug-related murder in the state of California. During this time, his brother Abigael Gonzalez Valencia (alias “El Cuini”) and his in-law Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (alias “El Mencho”) were involved in drug trafficking in California. But this 1990s charge did not garner enough attention from US investigators and Gerardo fell off the radar for more than a decade.
|U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) chart of several suspected members of the CJNG and Los Cuinis. Gerardo’s wife Wendy Dalaithy Amaral Arévalo is pictured there along with other suspected money launderers|
South America endeavors
In 2009, three Mexican nationals linked to Gerardo were detected in Argentina after a traffic accident. Officials in Morón, Argentina, began investigating the Mexican nationals and discovered that there was a suspicious entity, Círculo Internacional S.A., that served as a bar and café store.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) provided evidence to Argentina that the Mexican nationals were likely linked to a drug cartel, but the Argentine officials were not able to continue the investigation successfully.
Gerardo arrived in Argentina that year and managed Círculo Internacional S.A. He lived at Hotel Faena and sent his three children to a private school in the northern part of the city, and investigators discovered that he paid 6 months of tuition in advance in cash.
Círculo Internacional S.A. received about US$1.8 million sums as paid-in capital and deposited them at Banco de la Nación Argentina. Investigators believe that the money originally came from Los Cuinis. But before they could continue their efforts, Gerardo fled to Uruguay with his family.
|In Uruguay, the family bought a mansion known as “Quincho Grande” in an upscale neighborhood in the resort city Punta del Este, Maldonado. The property was 15,052 square metres (162,020 sq ft) and was bought at US$2 million.|
Gerardo and his family arrived to Uruguay in late 2011 They relocated because they wanted to live in a country where people would not recognize them. According to one of Gerardo’s sons, his family left Mexico after they were threatened to death by a group of masked gunmen who entered their house to allegedly kill them. In Mexico, Gerardo reportedly owned a restaurant ran by Federico Tobares, an Argentinian chef who years later disappeared. Mexican investigators suspected that Gerardo was behind his disappearance.
With his wife Wendy Dalaithy Amaral Arévalo, Gerardo ran a large money laundering scheme from Uruguay. The group invested millions in properties and businesses in Punta del Este and Montevideo, Uruguay.
But US investigators eventually caught up to his scheme when they sanctioned his wife, several of Gerardo’s associates, and multiple businesses they owned through the Kingpin Act. Their eyes eventually turned them to Uruguay, where Gerardo was arrested in April 2016.