HomeNewsBriefLos Cuinis May Have Laundered Money Through Argentina, Uruguay
BRIEF

Los Cuinis May Have Laundered Money Through Argentina, Uruguay

ARGENTINA / 25 APR 2019 BY JOSEFINA SALOMÓN EN

Argentina officials are investigating the financial arm of a powerful Mexican cartel -- showing the country's eagerness to shed its notoriety as a money laundering hub for international drug traffickers.

On March 15, a federal judge in Morón, in the province of Buenos Aires, questioned Oscar Calvete Souza, a businessman who allegedly acted as a local connection to a Mexican group known as Los Cuinis, Clarín reported. Argentine courts have also questioned another man believed to have been the group's driver and frontman.

The Cuinis -- described as “Mexico’s richest cartel” -- serve as the financial arm of the infamous Jalisco Cartel New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG), although recent reports indicate they may have been fully integrated.

SEE ALSO: Jalisco Cartel New Generation News and Profile

Calvete Souza is accused of working with Gerardo González Valencia, a Mexican national who is one of the leaders of the Cuinis. González Valencia lived in Argentina with his own family between 2007 and 2011 before moving to Uruguay.

A few years later, in 2016, González Valencia was arrested in Uruguay on money laundering charges after a company he used to buy property in the exclusive city of Punta del Este was named in the Panama Papers scandal.

Investigators told Perfil that González Valencia managed the organization’s operations from Uruguay with nothing but his cell phone. During the arrest, authorities seized goods worth $10 million from González Valencia. Authorities in Uruguay approved his extradition to the United States, where he faces drug trafficking charges.

The judge in Argentina is asking for the seizure of properties González Valencia bought with money he made while living there.

InSight Crime Analysis

Argentina’s pursuit of the case against Gerardo González Valencia sheds new light on the power and reach of Los Cuinis, and highlights both Argentina and Uruguay's recent willingness to pursue drug-money launderers.

Both South American countries have long been branded safe havens for money laundering, which made them attractive to criminal organizations like Los Cuinis looking to invest their earnings.

Uruguay provides ample money laundering opportunities through its dollarized economy and relative lack of restrictions on capital flows. Its links to major drug markets across the Atlantic and in neighboring Brazil and Argentina make it a popular destination for drug traffickers.

The fact that Gerardo González Valencia was able to live in Uruguay for so long and avoid arrest hints at the ease with which traffickers have used the country as a home base.

His 2016 arrest suggested that the Southern Cone countries were ready to tackle the group's incursions.

SEE ALSO: Mexico Institutional Failures Allow CJNG to Thrive Unchecked

A number of top members of the González Valencia family which makes up the core of Los Cuinis have been arrested in Mexico and Brazil in recent years.

In September 2018, Rosalinda González Valencia -- Gerardo's sister and wife of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” the CJNG's leader -- was released on bail in Mexico just three months after she was arrested on organized crime and money laundering charges.

Abigael González Valencia, the other leader of Los Cuinis, was arrested in Mexico in February 2015 and remains in jail.

In late 2017, federal police in Brazil arrested José González Valencia, alias “La Chepa,” in a rented beach house in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, where he had joined his family for the holidays. The arrest followed an extradition request by the United States, which sought the crime boss on drug trafficking charges.

These blows to the group have cast serious doubt as to whether Los Cuinis remain an independent partner of the CJNG, or have been completely taken over by the cartel.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COCAINE / 15 SEP 2022

Uruguay is becoming an increasingly popular stop along the cocaine pipeline to Europe. But authorities are struggling to respond.

ARGENTINA / 8 NOV 2022

Argentina’s most violent city, Rosario, looks set to beat its homicide record set one decade ago. But the city’s criminal…

BRAZIL / 7 OCT 2022

Latin America's environmental and land protectors are routinely murdered by the regions criminals.

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…