Updated: Jan 21
In 2019, The Intelligence Ledger began an in-depth evaluation of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion's (CJNG) financial structure in order to determine the way in which the criminal syndicate expands its power, influence, wealth, and territory. Additionally, The Intelligence Ledger examined CJNG revenue sources, laundering tactics, and the Mexican government's attempts to hit the cartel in the pocketbook. The team assigned to this investigation refrained from predicting future movements of CJNG, instead focusing on the cartel's diverse and alarming financial history.
Criminal Syndicate Overview
The Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion is currently one of Mexico's most powerful organized crime organizations. Aggressive and decisive in their actions, many analysts consider CJNG to be one of the main threats facing the legitimate government in Mexico City. Under the tutelage of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, otherwise known as El Mencho, the organization has grown to rival the size and value of many Forbes 500 companies.
Throughout 2019 and 2020, CJNG has established partnerships with criminal organizations in the European Union, United States, Asia, and Africa. This means that the criminal syndicate has access to greater power projection, capital, trafficking distribution, and transportation capabilities, thus allowing for greater inroads to be made into international markets. This reality will quickly enrich and empower the leadership of CJNG to further corrupt and erode the Mexican government.
Sources of Revenue
Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion has used a wide variety of strategies, industries, and tactics to increase its wealth and treasure. Although the exact valuation of the criminal syndicate remains unknown, it is undoubtedly in the billions. A team formed by The Intelligence Ledger has determined that CJNG's primary sources of revenue are Drug Trafficking, Extortion, Kidnapping for Ransom, Petroleum Theft, Human Labor, and Sex Trafficking.
Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion traffics a wide variety of illicit drugs across the globe, though their main efforts have focused around the distribution of fentanyl and heroin. The Intelligence Ledger has reached the conclusion that CJNG will soon supplant the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the world's largest criminal organizations, as the most powerful drug trafficking organization. Today, CJNG receives the majority of its fentanyl and required chemical precursors from the People's Republic of China through ports it controls directly or indirectly on Mexico's west coast.
In 2016, CJNG directly challenged the Sinaloa Cartel when Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion soldiers captured two of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's sons in Puerto Valarta. In order to secure their release, Guzman agreed to give CJNG large quantities of money and exclusive access to trafficking corridors in Central America and Northern Mexico. This agreement greatly enhanced the profitability of CJNG's trafficking efforts.
CJNG has also established a large presence in Jalisco, thus enabling the criminal organization to ship large quantities of methamphetamine and heroin to the highly profitable markets in the European Union and Asia.
For several centuries, large criminal syndicates have used extortion in order to control and intimidate populations under their control while simultaneously increasing profits. Using Jordan v. Aramark, No. 1:06-CV-192-R, 2007 WL 1175050 and 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) as a baseline, extortion can be defined as the, "act or practice of obtaining something or compelling some action by illegal means, as by force or coercion."
Just as its older predecessors, CJNG has repeatedly turned to extortion as a way of intimidating civilians and rivals while also developing considerable wealth. For example, farmers in CJNG territory are required to pay high 'user right' fees in order to safely carry out operations and conduct their work. Unlike its predecessors, however, CJNG has sought to prevent the creation of local self-defense groups by actually sticking to their word. Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion has conducted several civil affairs and infrastructure development operations in a bid reinforce the idea that CJNG is a legitimate authority and actually cares for the good of the population. Although it remains to be seen if this strategy has been widely successful, there have been some cases of civilians turning to the CJNG before the government for help.
Kidnap for Ransom
The Intelligence Ledger defines ransom kidnapping as the act of an individual, criminal organization, or terrorist group to exploit an abduction for the procurement wealth or funds. The Jalisco Cartel New Generation has repeatedly used such operations as a revenue source, although it can also be used to develop new relationship. Below, The Intelligence Ledger analyzes two instances of CJNG ransom kidnapping operations.
As previously mentioned, CJNG undertook a major operation to capture two of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's sons in 2016. Instead of issuing a lone ransom demand, however, the criminal syndicate negotiated with the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel to garner access to trafficking corridors and acquire a large payout. This action not only garnered CJNG temporary funding and new trade routes, but the respect of many smaller gangs and criminal organizations.
Another instance of ransom kidnapping took place on July 18, 2020, when CJNG soldiers abducted nearly twenty men from Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco. Shortly after the mass kidnapping, the families of the victims received calls demanding money and pledges of allegiance. This is a perfect example of kidnap for ransom, with the cartel garnering a large amount of money with little effort.
CJNG has repeatedly staged operations such as those mentioned above in order to expand its influence, wealth, and authority. The Intelligence Ledger assesses, therefore, that kidnap for ransom will continue to be a surefire revenue source well into the future.
The theft of petroleum products has become a major issue for countries dealing with major cartels. In many ways, the United Mexican States has become the center of such illegal activities. According to the Mexican Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Distributors, otherwise known as Amexgas, roughly $670,000,000 USD of liquefied petroleum gas was stolen in 2019 alone, with that number rising to several billion over the course of ten years. For Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, the theft of petroleum products offers a way of securing large profits at a low cost. Although the process of such operations are complicated and dangerous, the cartel's growing strength in the natural gas and petroleum rich states near the US-Mexico border serve as safe bases to operate freely from.
Analysts working for The Intelligence Ledger argue that rising cases of petroleum theft highlight the inability of Mexico City to exercise legitimate power over its dominion. Continued theft will result in private and public companies suffering major losses, the erosion of the rule of law, increased strength of the organized criminal syndicates, and more corruption in government agencies.
Although the extent of CJNG's use of forced labor remains shrouded in secrecy, American law enforcement agencies have uncovered evidence that the organization utilizes teens and women for operations in CJNG fronts and facilities. Examples include a massive meth lab in which adults and children were forced to work, a shopping center near Mexico City, and a vacation resort in Cancun that boasts many western visitors.
Sexual Trafficking remains a major issue in Mexico. According to Nexos, the Sinaloa Cartel and Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion have reportedly reached an unofficial agreement to share in the trafficking of Venezuelan women. This has not been independently confirmed by The Intelligence Ledger, although it fits a pattern of habit CJNG follows.