In less than a decade, the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG) has transformed into one of the most prolific and violent drug trafficking organizations in the world. From a small group of deserters from the now-extinct Milenio Cartel, they evolved into a vast criminal network whose links extend through all of the Americas, as well as Europe and Asia.

The key to their rapid expansion has been the strategic presence of operations on the southwest border of the United States, next to Tijuana, and the northwest border, next to Vancouver, Canada. Additionally, they control areas in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Through the use of violence and alliances with local criminal groups, they have displaced cartels like the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltrán Leyva Organization who have historically dominated key drug trafficking zones on the Pacific coast.

*This article was translated, edited for clarity and length and published with the permission of Animal Político. It does not necessarily represent the views of InSight Crime. See the Spanish original here.

Reports from US security agencies reveal that the CJNG distributes cocaine and methamphetamine along 10,000 kilometers of the Pacific coast in a route that extends from the Southern Cone to the borders of the United States and Canada.

Documents from US federal courts and from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reveal that as of 2014 the CJNG had extended their operations to Asia and Oceania.

As of this year, this cartel is the biggest and most important in Mexico. Information from Mexican and US authorities suggests the CJNG is active in 14 states, almost half of the country.

Pacific New Generation Cartel

The CJNG has only been introduced to Tijuana in the last couple years. Tijuana is the most important city for drug trafficking due to its proximity to California, one of the biggest global drug markets.

Their introduction to the market was made though a pact with the Arellano Félix criminal organization, which enabled their growth to reach a global level at a dizzying speed within the last two years.

The city is a link in vast chain of production, shipment, distribution and sale of drugs that has propelled the CJNG into the global market.

There is a drug trafficking route that operates along almost 10,000 kilometers of coast from Ecuador to the northwest border of the United States with Canada, which is almost half the distance from the North Pole to the South Pole.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the US-Mexico Border

In order to understand the international growth of the cartel, one must first understand their evolution within Mexico. According to a DEA intelligence report, the CJNG has extended their organization’s area of influence from their bastion in Jalisco to 14 states across the country, controlling parts of the southwest (Chiapas), the northwest (Baja California), the center (Aguascalientes), and the east (Tamaulipas and Veracruz), with an even stronger presence in Pacific states.

The two main leaders to whom the growth of the organization can be attributed are Abigael González Valencia, who was the head of the Los Cuinis criminal organization until his arrest, and his brother-in-law Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes “El Mencho,” head of the CJNG.

Before leading their own organization, both men commanded their own Milenio Cartel cells, which were dedicated to trafficking cocaine and methamphetamines. When they broke away to form their own cartel in 2010, González Valencia “supplied the initial funds to finance the ascent of the CJNG,” according to a recent DEA report.

The report states that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC) supplied the cocaine, and that the CJNG transported shipments to 10 key cities in the United States including San Diego, Los Angeles and Seattle. Among the points from which they regularly operate are maritime ports and high-capacity airplane terminals, which facilitate trafficking activities. The latest indication of their international expansion towards the Southern Cone was the arrest of Gerardo González Valencia — Abigael’s brother — and his wife, Wendy Amaral, in April of this year in Montevideo, Uruguay. The charges: assisting Los Cuinis with drug trafficking.

According the World Drug Report published by the United Nations, the principle international drug trafficking routes start in production countries like Ecuador and Colombia, travel through Central America and Mexico, and end in the United States.

One additional route from this expansion extends to Canada, which serves not only as a destination county but also as a transshipment point to Southeast Asia and Oceania. This is precisely the route that the CJNG operates.

Canada: The Drug Portal to the Pacific

The links between Mexican cartels and Canadian criminal organizations date back 10 years according to reports issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the entity responsible for federal law enforcement.

“Recent intelligence activities have established that the influence of Mexican cartels has increased and impacted the Canadian criminal markets,” said Annie Delisle, an RCMP spokeswoman, in an interview. As a consequence of this, the investigation of Mexican cartel operations has become, she said, a “national priority.”

The presence of drug trafficking organizations like the CJNG and Los Cuinis in Canada has also been noticed by the US Treasury Department. As a result of an investigation coordinated with the DEA on drug trafficking and money laundering activities, it was discovered that Jeniffer Beaney Camacho Cazares, wife of Abigael González Valencia, was alive and operating in the city of Quebec.

In April 2016, the Treasury Department added Camacho to the special list of drug traffickers and froze her assets and bank accounts on allegations of money laundering.

For Sgt. Lindsey Houghton, from the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – British Columbia based in Vancouver, the city is a “(drug) portal for the rest of Canada, as well as for all of the Pacific coast.”

Vancouver is located at the end of US Interstate Highway 5, which extends through the entire West Coast and reaches the Mexican boarder. The city is also one of the biggest maritime ports in Canada.

Vancouver is also the base for diverse criminal organizations tied to Mexican cartels and dedicated to the distribution and sale of drugs. The oldest Mexican-Canadian alliance was made between the Vancouver Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang and the Sinaloa Cartel, according to Houghton.

A couple of events occurred in Jalisco involving members of the United Nations, a criminal organization based in British Columbia. The events have alerted Canadian authorities to possible connections between criminal organizations in both countries.

In the summer of 2008, two members of the United Nations from British Columbia were assassinated in Guadalajara.

In March 2015, Paul William Cameron was arrested in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit. Originally from British Columbia, Cameron was wanted by Canadian authorizes for seven charges of drug possession with intent to traffic and four charges of possession of illegal weapons.

The DEA Investigates

Since 2007, the DEA has closely followed the criminal activities of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, “El Mencho,” and Abigael González Valencia, “El Cuini,” who is currently imprisoned after his capture in February 2015.

The DEA office in Los Angeles, California has headed the investigation of the CJNG’s criminal activities and has discovered the “development of criminal alliances with criminal organizations all around the world, including in the United States, Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia,” according a public analysis by the US Treasury Department published in April 2015.

The investigations have already resulted in a formal indictment in the District of Columbia, which was unsealed in March 2014, allowing Animal Político to access it. The document includes six charges of cocaine and methamphetamine distribution between Mexico, the United States and other Pacific countries.

The first of these crimes was committed in 2007 and involved a cocaine shipment coming from Colombia, through Guatemala and Mexico to the United States. The second, which transpired in the same year, involved another shipment of cocaine from Colombia to the United States via Mexico.

The third, from Ecuador to the United States, occurred in 2009 and the next two in 2013. In 2014, the last crime indicated a radical shift: Oseguera organized the shipment of methamphetamines from Mexico to Australia through the United States.

Asia and Oceania: High Profit Markets

The Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University has also recorded the expansion of the CJNG into Australia and Southeast Asia in a report titled, “The Mexican Drug Cartels and Dark-Networks.”

The document, which was accessed by Animal Político, warns that the CJNG has introduced methamphetamine into the Australian market through its ties with criminal organizations in China.

The document describes the production and trafficking process: “These linkages relate to the importation [by Mexican cartels from Chinese organized crime groups] of precursors for the production of methamphetamines. The finished product is then shipped from Mexico [primarily Jalisco state] back to the Chinese mainland.”

SEE ALSO: Coverage of the Jalisco Cartel

Chris Dawson, director of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), asserts that even though they do not yet dominate the market, Mexican cartels have increased the supply of methamphetamines and cocaine to motorcycle gangs and other criminal groups that distribute and sell drugs locally.

Dawson expressed concern regarding the level of sophistication the Mexican cartels have demonstrated as well as their strengthening ties with Chinese and Southeast Asian criminal groups in key shipment points for drug cargo destined for Australia. According to Dawson, Mexican cartels’ incursion into the Australian market, and their global expansion in general, is mainly motivated by profit: the increase of cocaine prices when transported from one country to another can reach ten times its original value.

For example: “The typical wholesale price of one kilogram of cocaine in Colombia is 2,500 Australian dollars [about $1,800], while in Mexico it is 12,500 per kilogram [about $9,000]. If the same batch of cocaine enters the United States it can reach a price of 54,000 Australian dollars [about $39,000], and if it reaches Australia it would be worth 250,000 Australian dollars [about $181,000].”

How the CJNG Became a Global Empire

2007: The DEA documents a plan between the then-leaders of the Milenio Cartel, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes and Abigael González Valencia, to transport cocaine from Colombia to the United States through Mexico.

2009: Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes and his brother-in-law, Abigael González Valencia, extend their supply network to Ecuador.

2010: A faction of the Milenio Cartel breaks off to form the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), which is headed by Oseguera and financed by González Valencia.

2013: The US Department of Justice releases a formal indictment against Oseguera and González Valencia through a grand jury based in the District of Columbia.

January 2014: Nemesio Oseguera conspires to traffic methamphetamines from Mexico to Australia through the United States.

November 2014: The CJNG is designated by the DEA as a “consolidated priority organization,” as it secured a presence in at least 12 US cities.

February 2015: Elements of the Marines arrest Abigael González Valencia in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.

April 2015: The US Treasury Department add the CJNG and Los Cuinis to their list of drug traffickers. Assets and bank accounts of operations in Mexico, the United States, Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia are frozen.

April 2016: Gerardo González Valencia, brother of “El Cuini,” and his wife, Wendy Amaral, are arrested in Montevideo, Uruguay, for their alleged activities supporting the trafficking of drugs tied to the Los Cuinis organization.

October 2016: The US Treasury Department adds nine new CJNG and Los Cuinis operatives to the special list of drug traffickers. They are described as “one of the world’s most prolific and violent drug trafficking organizations.”

*This article was translated, edited for clarity and length and published with the permission of Animal Político. It does not necessarily represent the views of InSight Crime. See the Spanish original here.

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