Who are the two leaders of the CJNG who have control of Nayarit

The Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG) has established itself as one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organizations over the last decade. Although its base of operations is in Jalisco, the cartel led by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho,” operates in 24 of Mexico’s 32 states.

Michoacán and Nayarit, states bordering Jalisco, naturally have a strong presence of the four-letter cartel. The latter state, in particular, is controlled by two leaders with great relevance in the criminal organization.

Through a series of documents from the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) that were leaked by a group of hackers and environmentalists called “Guacamaya,” consulted by Unión Jalisco, the names of both criminal leaders were revealed.

One of them was identified as Hugo Gonzalo Mendoza Gaytan, alias “El Sapo” and/or “Rey Sapo,” a powerful but low-profile capo who has become a priority target for the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Gonzalo Mendoza Gaytan, "El Sapo" is one of the operators closest to Mencho (Photo: File)
Gonzalo Mendoza Gaytan, “El Sapo” is one of the operators closest to Mencho (Photo: File)

According to intelligence reports, the approximately 35-year-old is a drug trafficker from Michoacán and the brother of “Güero” Abundio (Abundio Mendoza Gaytán), the regional leader of the CJNG until his arrest in January 2012.

Mendoza Gaytan has led the Jalisco Cartel since at least 2015 and has managed to expand it to several Mexican states and cities. He is responsible for conquering regions for Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, El Mencho, the absolute leader of the criminal organization, and in charge of the cartel’s political relations.

In Nayarit, he controls the distribution, production, and transfer of drugs in the southern and southern coastal regions.

He also controls the Puerto Vallarta plaza, the CJNG’s nerve center for laundering drug trafficking income through nightclubs, bars, and restaurants. From this tourist destination, the CJNG manages not only money laundering and extortion activities but also drug trafficking, according to the US Department of Treasury.

Likewise, in Guanajuato, in central Mexico, “El Sapo” designed the offensive against Jose Antonio Yepez, “El Marro,” founder of the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel. Meanwhile, in the Mexican capital, he agreed on an alliance between the CJNG and the criminal group the Anti-Union Tepito to take over the criminal businesses of the metropolis.

“El Jardinero” (The Gardener)

(Photo: DEA)
(Photo: DEA)

The Sedena identified the other head of the cartel that controls Nayarit as Audias Flores Silva, alias “El Jardinero” (The Gardener).

Flores Silva is considered to be the main operator of drug production and distribution, kidnapping, and extortion in the municipalities of San Pedro Lagunillas, Ahuacatlán, Acaponeta, Ixtlán del Río, Amatlán de las Cañas and Jala.

However, it operates in El Arenal, Magdalena Tequila, Amatitán, San Marcos Etzatlán, and Hostotipaquillo.

In 2021, through a press release, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury Department made it public knowledge that “El Jardinero” is a major drug trafficker who controls a CJNG criminal cell along Mexico’s Pacific coast, including the state of Nayarit.

Audias Flores Silva is considered the successor of "El Mencho" (Photo: Twitter /@criminal_case_)
Audias Flores Silva is considered the successor of “El Mencho” (Photo: Twitter /@criminal_case_)

“Flores Silva, who traffics massive quantities of opioids and cocaine, poses a major threat to the United States,” said OFAC Director Andrea Gacki.

The prosecution of the case, by the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, charged Flores Silva with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin into the United States and use of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Before this determination, Flores Silva served a five-year prison sentence in the United States in connection with a drug trafficking conviction. After his release, he returned to Mexico.