U.S. freezes ‘El Chapo’ associates’ assets; report alleges government knew of escape

 

MEXICO CITY,  The U.S. Department of Treasury has frozen the assets of two suspected operatives of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel.

The U.S. Department of Treasury froze the assets of two suspected operatives of drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel as a report alleges high-level Mexican government officials knew about "El Chapo's" escape plan. Mexico's Proceso outlet recently released a report that said the country's Secretariat of the Interior had information showing Guzman was operating the Sinaloa Cartel from within the Altiplano Federal Prison and evidence that he was planning an escape. Photo courtesy of Mexico's Attorney General
The U.S. Department of Treasury froze the assets of two suspected operatives of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel as a report alleges high-level Mexican government officials knew about “El Chapo’s” escape plan. Mexico’s Proceso outlet recently released a report that said the country’s Secretariat of the Interior had information showing Guzman was operating the Sinaloa Cartel from within the Altiplano Federal Prison and evidence that he was planning an escape. Photo courtesy of Mexico’s Attorney General

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control froze all assets of Guadalupe Fernández Valencia and Jorge Mario Valenzuela Verdugo after they were put on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List. U.S. citizens are banned from conducting business with the suspects.

Fernández Valencia is accused of helping move drugs and money for the Sinaloa Cartel. She is also the sister of Manuel Fernández Valencia, a Sinaloa Cartel operative detained in the United States.

Valenzuela Verdugo is accused of leading drug distribution in the Mexican cities of Culiacán and Guadalajara.

On July 11, Guzman escaped from a Mexican maximum security prison for the second time using a mile-long tunnel, which could have taken a year to build.

Mexico’s Proceso outlet recently released a report saying the country’s Secretariat of the Interior had information showing Guzman was operating the Sinaloa Cartel from within the Altiplano Federal Prison. There was also evidence he was planning an escape.

El Chapo” — meaning “The Short One” or “shorty” — so dubbed because of his 5-foot-6-inch frame, was captured in Guatemala in 1993 and then extradited to Mexico to face murder and drug trafficking charges. He escaped from prison in 2001 by hiding in a laundry cart after bribing prison guards, and was re-captured in February 2014.

Using allegedly leaked information from the Méxicoleaks website — akin to theWikiLeaks website — Proceso says high-ranking Interior Ministry officials were informed about Guzman’s actions within the prison, mainly from conversations Guzman had during conjugal visits, family visits, his lawyers and the courts.

Proceso says the Interior Ministry was also informed of an alliance Guzman made with other cartel bosses, particularly the Jalisco New Generation cartel, and also knew about secret orders Guzman made to his lawyers. The ministry was also alerted after a company called Systemtech attempted to gain access to the prison’s blueprints, according to Proceso. The company was later linked to Guzman.

During his 477 days in prison, Guzman saw guests on 386 of those days, including 46 conjugal visits.

In October, an unedited leaked video of Guzman’s escape shed further light into the suspicious circumstances surrounding the prison break.

Mexican television channel Televisa broadcasted the CCTV footage of Guzman’s escape, the longer version of a video authorities previously released but without sound and only showing the moments before Guzman disappeared.

By Andrew V. Pestano

UPI