Bitcoin, drugs, and the Cartel: The tangled web of Francisco A.B. and CJNG

The connection between Francisco A.B., the CJNG, and the alleged Bitcoin-fueled drug smuggling ring under U.S. Homeland Security's lens.

A Mexican man identified as Francisco A. B. was accused by US authorities of allegedly collaborating with the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG) to smuggle large quantities of drugs into the neighboring country.

In official Department of Homeland Security (DHS) files from May 11, it was revealed that the accused allegedly leads a network responsible for smuggling cocaine and methamphetamine into the country of the stars and stripes.

Francisco A.B. faces charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and drug trafficking. Information from the US Department of Homeland Security indicated that he collaborates with the so-called Four Letter Cartel, led by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias El Mencho.

Al parecer el acusado estaría relacionado con el CJNG
(Foto: archivo)
The accused appears to be linked to the CJNG (Photo: file).

In operations carried out by the DHS, the agents managed to intercept more than 2 million dollars linked to drug trafficking, as reported by EFE. It was in 2020 that an informant, who was facing federal charges, said that the now accused “laundered” money from drug trafficking in Bitcoin, a decentralized virtual currency.

According to reports, a federal agent posed as a money laundering specialist and recipient of drug proceeds, so he contacted Francisco A. B. and met with him on several occasions. By the year 2021, the two met in a Florida county, a place that was under surveillance by members of the police.

In that meeting, a conversation was recorded about drug trafficking to the United States from Mexico through a vehicle, which was traced and secured along with $500,000. DHS recorded these actions to charge the Mexican national.

Vínculos entre el CJNG y la industria del tabaco en México han alertado a las autoridades de EEUU por su posible impacto en la circulación de fentanilo.
(AP Foto/J. Scott Applewhite, Archivo)
Links between the CJNG and Mexico’s tobacco industry have alerted US authorities to its potential impact on the circulation of fentanyl (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File).

It is worth noting that just one day earlier, on May 10, five US senators sent a letter to Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury Department, to sanction Tobacco International Holdings Switzerland, a company which, according to the document, was linked to the CJNG.

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In addition, the senators requested that the company be blacklisted by the Office of Foreign Assets Control(OFAC ). The document was written by Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Rick Scott, Bill Hagerty, and Bill Cassidy.

Other US actions against the CJNG

On April 27, the US Treasury Department announced sanctions against seven individuals allegedly linked to the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG) and several companies allegedly linked to the criminal group in Puerto Vallarta.

El anuncio de las sanciones fue compartido a través de redes sociales 
(Foto: Twitter/@USEmbassyMEX)
The announcement of the sanctions was shared via social media (Photo: Twitter/@USEmbassyMEX).

Eduardo Pardo Espino, of Mexican nationality, has a drug trafficking charge in the US. He was also identified as a financial operator for the CJNG in Puerto Vallarta, a place identified as a stronghold of the criminal group.

“The Jalisco Cartel – New Generation(CJNG) is a violent organization based in Mexico that traffics a significant proportion of the illicit fentanyl and other deadly drugs entering the United States,” the statement said.

In addition to Pardo Espino, Bryan Moises Luquin Rodríguez and Horacio Edmundo Lelo de Larrea Ventimilla were sanctioned and, according to U.S. authorities, were linked directly or indirectly to the CJNG’s timeshare fraud.

The other four individuals were Luis Lorenzo Gómez Arias, Clemente Padilla Zarate, Pedro Rivas Sánchezand Ian Jassiel Sánchez Villegas. As a result, “all property and interests in property of the designated individuals described above that are located in the United States or the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked.”