LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The daughter of Mexican cartel drug lord “El Mencho” is asking a U.S. judge to free her Friday, whereas prosecutors push for jail time and as much as a $5 million effective.
Jessica Johanna Oseguera González, referred to as “La Negra,” pleaded guilty in March to violating the Kingpin Act for her affiliation with companies blacklisted by the United States. But her legal professional, Steven J. McCool, argued in courtroom motions that González, 34, is the sufferer of “vindictive prosecution,” citing the rarity of the costs towards her.
La Negra has spent greater than 15 months in jail, and her legal professional filed a 100-page movement urging the choose to sentence her to time served, which he mentioned is already a “severe” punishment.
More than 2,000 individuals and entities have been targeted through the Kingpin Act through the previous twenty years for his or her roles in worldwide narcotics trafficking, in keeping with the U.S. Treasury Department. This typically resulted in civil penalties, together with freezing belongings and levying vital fines, finally crippling companies. However, felony fees and jail stints associated to the Kingpin Act are way more uncommon.
In the primary identified case, prosecutors focused the pinnacle of an airline in Peru and his spouse for allegedly trafficking tons of cocaine in 2009. In a case resolved this yr, brokers used the regulation towards a Florida pilot who supplied personal constitution service to Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro Moros’ inside circle in help of Maduro’s corrupt however profitable May 2018 re-election marketing campaign.
La Negra’s crimes are a lot much less extreme, and her legal professional claims she’s being focused as a result of of her father.
For almost a decade, U.S. brokers and Mexican navy have been unable to seize her father, Rúben Oseguera Cervantes, head of the violent global drug powerhouse Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, referred to as CJNG. El Mencho is believed to be hiding out within the jungles or mountains of western Mexico, protected by a gaggle of mercenaries. The U.S. is providing a $10 million reward for information on his whereabouts.
Agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have efficiently focused members of El Mencho’s inside circle, together with leaders of the cartel’s monetary arm and El Mencho’s daughter. They additionally fought for years to safe the arrest and extradition of the cartel chief’s son, Rúben Oseguera González.
La Negra walked into the Washington, D.C., courthouse in February 2020 with plans to attend a listening to for her brother however was rapidly arrested. Her brother, referred to as “Menchito,” Spanish for “Lil’ Mencho,” had been tapped to finally take over the cartel. Now, he sits in a U.S. jail awaiting trial on federal gun and drug fees.
In October 2018, El Mencho was outed as a top U.S. target by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions throughout a nationwide information convention. Sessions additionally introduced a coordinated attack on CJNG, blamed together with the notorious Sinaloa Cartel for the majority of America’s unlawful and lethal medicine.
CJNG has an estimated 5,000 members and is extra violent, steadily blamed for mass graves, kidnappings, acid baths and video recorded beheadings. The Courier Journal revealed a special investigative report in 2019 on El Mencho’s reach into small-town America, with identified instances in 35 states. CJNG has been detected on each continent besides Antarctica.Prosecutors revealed the unsealing of a number of indictments towards high CJNG leaders, together with El Mencho, his son and his spouse’s brother, Abigael González Valencia. González Valencia, 45, isthe pinnacle of “Los Cuinis,” a billion-dollar drug and cash laundering community and the monetary arm of CJNG.
U.S. Treasury Department officers publicly introduced that in 2015, they designated El Mencho and his brother-in-law as “kingpins” below the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. That makes it unlawful for an American financial institution, enterprise or citizen to conduct or patronize companies related to the kingpins.
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La Negra was born in San Francisco and has twin citizenship, making her weak to this line of assault.
She had enterprise dealings with corporations blacklisted by the Treasury Department for affiliations with CJNG. She managed a sushi restaurant and tequila label Onze Black in Mexico. She additionally was an element proprietor and the only real administrator of J&P Advertising.
The U.S. sanctions have been front-page information in La Negra’s hometown of Guadalajara.
Prosecutors allege that La Negra spent years avoiding financial sanctions and adjusted the names of some of her companies in an try to idiot U.S. investigators. They filed a movement asking the choose to contemplate a sentence of 4 years and three months in jail.
Also, La Negra “has access to assets” and may pay a effective of between $25,000 and $5 million, prosecutors argued of their sentencing memo.
Her legal professional disagreed, saying she could be unable to pay a effective.
Kingpin Act first utilized in crime linked to Peru
La Negra’s legal professional argues in courtroom paperwork that the allegations towards his consumer are nowhere close to as egregious as others prosecuted below the identical regulation.
In the first known prosecution for violating the Kingpin Act, brokers with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami and Internal Revenue Service secured indictments in 2007 towards Peruvian drug kingpin Fernando Melciades Zevallos Gonzales and his spouse, Sandra Elisa Sanchez.
The couple teamed to begin Aero Continente, Peru’s largest airline with an workplace in Miami, Florida. Agents allege in courtroom paperwork that its planes have been used to smuggle medicine.
Then-President George W. Bush declared Zevallos a big international narcotics trafficker, clearing the way in which for future felony and civil instances towards him and his group on June 1, 2004. That identical day, Sanchez deposited two checks from her husband’s account totaling $100,000 into her private checking account, in keeping with her plea settlement.
Sanchez was arrested July 1, 2008 at Miami International Airport. She pleaded responsible eight months later to one depend of violating the Kingpin Act, with prosecutors dropping cash laundering and different fees. A federal choose allowed Sanchez to be launched in November 2009 and positioned on three years probation.
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Her husband remained in jail in Peru, serving a 20-year sentence for drug trafficking and cash laundering.
Along with the felony fees, Treasury Department officers introduced in 2009 they have been levying sanctions against the drug lord’s financial network in the British Virgin Islands, Panama and Peru.
In a more moderen case, the proprietor of a Florida-based constitution firm supplied flight providers to distinguished members of Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro’s inside circle, together with former Executive Vice President Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah.
The U.S. Treasury Department listed El Aissami as a “specially designated narcotics trafficker” in 2017, cautioning on its web site: “U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions or otherwise dealing with these individuals and entities.”
Yet Victor Mones Coro, based mostly in Miami, and others continued to offer personal flights for El Aissami and his associates to Russia, Turkey, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, in keeping with courtroom information. About two dozen of these flights have been in furtherance of Maduro’s re-election marketing campaign.
The Treasury Department sanctioned Maduro in 2017 for denying democracy to the folks of Venezuela and imposing “an authoritarian regime,” declaring “all assets of Nicolas Maduro subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are prohibited from dealing with him.
Coropled guilty in federal court in the Southern District of New York in 2020 to conspiracy to violate and evade the Kingpin Act and its regulations.
In April, Coro was sentenced to serve four years and seven months and then remain on supervised release for two years. He remains jailed in Brooklyn, New York, according to Federal Bureau of Prisons records.
La Negra isn’t charged with money laundering, wiring drug profits or aiding an illegal election, so she should receive a lesser sentence than Coro or Sanchez, McCool said.
La Negra’s emotional letter to the judge
Hoping to gain her freedom, La Negra wrote to the judge from her jail cell.
She described being alone in isolation for 23 hours a day as jail officials try to limit cases of COVID-19 amid the pandemic.
“I discover myself speaking to my photos and to myself,” she wrote. “Sometimes I really feel like I’m going to lose my thoughts.”
She described how helpless she felt as elderly loved ones have contracted the coronavirus and how she is unable to protect her children, a 5-year-old girl and an older son.
“Not having the ability to hug them, to odor them, to get up subsequent to them, to present them my blessing earlier than they go to mattress or after they get up, merely to look at them develop each day, hurts lots,” she wrote in her letter.
She asked the judge for forgiveness.
“Ms. Gonzalez understands totally the magnitude of her actions, and her punishment has been underway and extreme,” her attorney argued.
La Negra is scheduled to be sentenced in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia Friday by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell.
Follow Beth Warren on Twitter: @BethWarrenCJ.