Things That Matter

With ‘El Chapo’ Behind Bars The Government Has Seized His Homes And Now They’re Putting Them Up For Auction

Some would say that interest rates are so low at the moment, that it’s a prime time to buy a house. But you know what’s an even better reason to check out what’s on the market? Three words: El Chapo’s house. That’s right, amigas. Now that the ex-leader of the Sinaloa Cartel is definitively stuck with a pretty hefty life sentence, his goods are up for sale. His house and worldly possessions, that is. Not the drugs and other contraband.

We should probably mention: it’s not just one house being auctioned, it’s six.

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Imagine owning six houses. That’s definitely living the dream. Although, in Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán’s case, he was pretty much confined to his living quarters when he was on the run. Granted, we can make an educated guess that there’s probably only so much you can do, even in a super duper decked-out pad. Poor El Chapo had it pretty rough, what with having to hide from the authorities across six homes. Especially in this economy. Okay, okay, we can only get away with so much sarcasm.

Apparently bidding on the drug lord’s home in Calle Rio Humaya will start at $107,349.

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But, don’t be fooled: not all of his houses are worth the same. It’s thought that, altogether, his collection of houses should fetch at least a staggering 19.5 million Mexican pesos – or, 1 million US dollars worth. Despite their impressive price tag, it’s worth noting that each of the properties also come fully furnished, sporting things such as television sets, washing and drying machines, microwaves and even exercise machines! That makes them a bargain, right?

And sure, they’re a bargain for anyone who’s watched too many Netflix true crime specials.

Apparently one of the homes is sporting a secret escape tunnel underneath a bathtub. The story behind this fateful tunnel is that the Mexican military had originally barged into El Chapo’s home in Culiacán, Sinaloa, in the early hours of a mid-February morning, back in 2004. The bathtub tunnel is credited with being the reason why El Chapo was able to escape the military’s clutches through an above ground drainage system. That is, until El Chapo was eventually captured, just one week after the raid.

Rumor has it that quite a few of the kingpin’s houses are connected by tunnels.

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After all, tunneling seemed to be El Chapo’s favorite way to get around: he previously managed to escape from a Mexican prison in 2015 by tunneling out through a shower stall. Unfortunately, though, we’re yet to hear of any word about whether the laundry cart El Chapo used in his 2001 prison break is also included in any of the auctions.

All jokes aside, the real question is whether there will be a lot of interest in the properties, or not.

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And we’re not just talking about the price point. One of the homes was originally purchased by El Chapo for the mother of his son, Ovidio Guzmán López. While the property itself has some pretty substantial draws – we’re talking multiple bedrooms, and an outdoor backyard pool – it’s also connected to a guy who is still on the run, and is very much wanted by the United States. There’s a high chance he might not necessarily want to just let go of a three-storey home that’s worth over half a million dollars. Or other things like the two luxury ships and convoy pricey sports cars. You know, the Ford Mustangs, Jaguars, and Mercedes limousines.

And it may not entirely be up to Guzmán López. El Chapo’s kingpin status fell to his sons after his arrest.

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Word on the street has it that the Mexican government had arrested Guzmán López back in October, trying to deal a real blow to the cartels. However, the cartels retaliated by attacking a housing complex designed for military families. 14 people died during the shootouts, resulting in the government releasing Guzmán López to de-escalate the violence. With a reaction like that from the cartels over Guzmán López’s capture, it begs the question as to whether the sale of El Chapo’s homes may inspire copycat attacks during the auctions themselves, or on the new homeowners themselves.

Anyway, those daunting questions aside, here’s hoping that the Mexican government, who are responsible for the sale, see a proper payday from this series of El Chapo properties. The intention for the funds is to see them donated to a children’s music program based in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

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A New Investigation Alleges That Some Of Mexico’s Largest Tequila Brands Are Laundering Money For Drug Cartels

Things That Matter

A New Investigation Alleges That Some Of Mexico’s Largest Tequila Brands Are Laundering Money For Drug Cartels

Carlos Jasso / Getty

Thre have long been alleged links between Mexico’s drug cartels and legitimate businesses. Whether by pressure or choice, several companies have been proven to be working alongside some of Mexico’s most deadly cartels – whether it be laundering money, lobbying politicians, or paying off corrupt officials.

However, a new investigation has revealed just how far the cartels have gone to ensure a steady stream of cash directly to their pockets. And in the process, they’ve revealed that some of Mexico’s most iconic brands may be tied to some of its most dangerous cartels.

Working together with the U.S. DEA, Mexico has identified tequila brands that are allegedly laundering money for cartels.

On Tuesday, Mexican financial regulators unveiled details about companies they believe to be linked to movements totaling more than $1.1 billion related to the hyper-violent Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG). They also froze the bank accounts of nearly 2,000 people they allege are involved in the money laundering scheme.

The country’s anti-money laundering agency said it worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to identify the 167 companies caught up in the financial dragnet, dubbed “Operation Blue Agave.”

Blue agave is the plant used to make tequila, which is the signature drink of Jalisco, the cartel’s home state.

Drug cartels have a long history of using tequila to disguise their operations, dating to at least 2006.

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This isn’t the first time that criminal groups have used Mexico’s most popular beverage to advance their illegal activities – links between the tequila industry and drug cartels go back to at least 2006. That was the year the DEA first discovered a connection between tequila and drug trafficking in Mexico, the newspaper Milenio reported on Thursday.

Much like today’s report, it’s alleged that drug cartels are using legitimate – and sometimes totally fake – tequila companies to launder money.

In 2006, it was the Tequila Cartel – also known as the Arellano Félix organization – that was found to be using tequila as a front for illegal activities. the U.S. Treasury Department had alleged that the tequila company 4 Reyes had helped the Tijuana Cartel to launder the money it obtained from distributing drugs in both Mexico and the U.S.

So which tequila companies have been accused of working alongside the cartels?

Mexican officials so far are remaining pretty tight lipped about which specific companies have been accused of working alongside the cartels. However, from previous reports, links between the tequila company Onze Black have been discovered. The company was set up by Los Cuinis, a drug cartel with close ties to the CJNG, to help finance its criminal activities. The U.S. government added the company to an economic blacklist the same year.

Another tequila company, one owned by the actress Kate del Castillo, was investigated by Mexican authorities to establish whether it had any financial links to the former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, currently imprisoned in the United States.

However, no illicit dealings between del Castillo’s company, Tequila Honor, and El Chapo were detected.

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Violence In Mexico Is Expected To Get Even Worse Just As The Country Enters The Worst Phase Of The Pandemic

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Violence In Mexico Is Expected To Get Even Worse Just As The Country Enters The Worst Phase Of The Pandemic

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On paper, Mexico has seemed to largely escape the worst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Although its leaders came under fire from many at the beginning of the outbreak, the healthcare system hasn’t collapsed and in many parts of the country, it’s largely been business as usual.

However, officials are warning that as the economic impacts of the pandemic begin to take hold, the country could be in store for a very violent 2020. And this dire warning comes as Mexico is already experiencing it’s deadliest year in modern history, unrelated to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Even with Coronavirus restrictions, deadly violence continues to rise in Mexico.

Officials had thought that with Coronavirus-related restrictions in place, much of the widespread violence that plagues the country would gradually be reduced as more people stayed at home. But with the 6,000 homicides between March and April, 2020 is shaping up to be the deadliest year in modern Mexican history – just after 2019 claimed the top spot last year.

So far in 2020, homicides have climbed by 2.4% in the first four months of the year, compared to 2019. In the first four months of this year, 11,535 murders were registered, up from 11,266 homicide in same period last year, preliminary data from the security ministry showed. Just over 34,600 murders were logged in Mexico in all of last year.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador pledged to bring down gang-fueled violence afflicting Mexico when he took office in December 2018, but homicides hit a record level in 2019 and have continued to climb even during the Coronavirus lockdown.

And now as the country begins to find a ‘new normal’ and slowly reopen, officials are warning that the situation will only get worse.

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Speaking at a “justice, transparency and Covid-19” conference, Santiago Nieto, the head of the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit, bluntly declared that an economic and security “crisis is obviously coming.”

He predicted that burglaries, financial fraud, human trafficking and child pornography offenses will be among the crimes that will increase. Mexico’s court system will consequently come under significant pressure, Nieto said.

For his part, the head of the Federal Protection Service, a division of the Security Ministry, told the newspaper El Universal that Mexico is likely to go through a “very rough” period of insecurity in the next three to six months.

Although the economic losses haven’t been as severe as in the U.S., Mexico was already in a precarious economic situation before the pandemic.

So far, the pandemic has left more than 750,000 Mexicans without work in the formal sector – this isn’t including the roughly 60% of Mexican society that works in the informal economy. And analysts and financial institutions are forecasting that the economy will suffer a deep recession in 2020.

Commissioner Manuel Espino Barrientos said the Coronavirus pandemic and the economic downturn caused by the mitigation measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus will leave Mexico in a “very complicated” security situation.

Violence and crime will increase because a lot of people “will not find work but they will be hungry,” Espino said.

Despite the economic downturn, a new poll shows that a majority of Mexicans support further extending strict stay-at-home orders.

Although Mexico’s President AMLO has repeatedly stated that the country’s Coronavirus pandemic is under control, that’s not what most Mexicans feel, according to a new poll.

Conducted by the newspaper El Financiero on May 22 and 23, the poll found that 52% of those polled believe that the Coronavirus situation has not been controlled.

Participants were then asked to offer an opinion on the government’s coronavirus mitigation measures, and 64% of poll respondents said that more restrictions should be enforced and stay-at-home orders/recommendations should be extended.

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