Disappearance of call center workers in Zapopan unveils alleged CJNG timeshare fraud

The dark intertwine of organized crime, employee exploitation, and ruthless scams hidden behind Mexico's innocent timeshare offers.

On June 3, the governor of the state of Jalisco, Enrique Alfaro, confirmed that U. S. authorities were cooperating in the investigations to clarify the case of the eight workers of a call center in Zapopan, Jalisco, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Although the State Attorney General’s Office (FGE) confirmed that the remains found inside bags in a ravine in the same municipality correspond to those of the missing youths, a US official recently confirmed that US authorities have indications that the Zapopan call center workers, allegedly operated by the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG), were killed in retaliation for wanting to quit their jobs.

On condition of anonymity, the informant said it is likely that similar murders have been committed on previous occasions. This is not the first time such operation centers and similar crimes have been identified in this region of Jalisco.

Se han identificado call centers que son controlados por la organización criminal que encabeza Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (Foto: Cuartoscuro)
Call centers that are controlled by the criminal organization headed by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (Photo: Cuartoscuro) have been identified.

The Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG) operates a series of call centers in Jalisco that aim to find Americans to defraud by offering them supposed timeshares. Given this scenario, one of the lines of investigation suggests that the criminal group headed by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, El Mencho, kills people who oppose continuing to work in these places.

Last April, Brian E. Nelson – undersecretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence in the United States – reported that the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG)’s “deep involvement in timeshare fraud in Puerto Vallarta and elsewhere often targets elderly Americans and can rob victims of their life savings. It is an important source of revenue for the criminal group.”

In this way, the fraudsters contacted people looking to sell timeshares in Puerto Vallarta, one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations.

El FBI advirtió sobre las operaciones de los Call Centers 
(AP Foto/Charlie Neibergall, File)
FBI warned about Call Center operations (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

In 2023, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned that fraudsters were contacting sellers via email, saying they had a buyer ready. Still, the seller needed to pay taxes and other fees before the deal could go through. The deal allegedly fizzled out once the payments were made.

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The FBI report also stated that, in 2022, the agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center “received more than 600 claims with losses of nearly $39.6 million from victims who came in contact with fraudsters who offered them timeshares in Mexico.”

Disappearances of call center telephone operators have been reported since at least 2017, and the authorities’ diligence has proved insufficient to solve the cases, reproached Héctor Flores, co-founder of the search collective Luz de Esperanza (Light of Hope).

“regardless of what they were engaged in, it cannot be allowed”: AMLO

El presidente Andrés Manuel López Obrador se pronunció sobre el caso del Call Center de Zapopan, Jalisco  (Foto: Jovani Pérez)
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador pronounced himself on the case of the Call Center in Zapopan, Jalisco (Photo: Jovani Pérez).

On Friday morning, June 9, during his traditional morning conference, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was questioned about the more than 100,000 people missing in Mexico and the controversial case of the call center workers in Zapopan, Jalisco.

López Obrador regretted the discovery of the remains of the young people and assured them that these were events that could not be allowed. In addition, the leader of the Executive Branch in Mexico detailed that the case had to do with denunciations that had already been presented and that justice must be applied to criminals.

“Regardless of what they were engaged in, those who lost their lives, this cannot be allowed, this cannot be accepted, that justice be applied to criminals,” argued the leader of the self-styled Fourth Transformation.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also highlighted that the recommendations of the US government would be taken into account, in addition to the fact that he ordered a new census to be carried out to know a more accurate number of people who have disappeared in the country.