Daughter of Mexican cartel boss sentenced to US prison for violation of Kingpin Act

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Jessica Johanna Oseguera González, known as "La Negra," is the daughter of CJNG cartel leader El Mencho
Jessica Johanna Oseguera González, known as "La Negra," is the daughter of CJNG cartel leader El Mencho

A U.S. judge on Friday ordered the daughter of Mexican drug lord "El Mencho" to serve two years and six months in prison in a rare criminal case involving the Kingpin Act.

Jessica Johanna Oseguera González, known as "La Negra," had urged Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell, with the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., to free her after more than 15 months in jail so she could return to her daughter, age 5, and her older son at their family home in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Prosecutors had lobbied for a prison sentence of four years and three months, arguing the 34-year-old California native has lied about the degree of her involvement with her father, drug lord Rubén Oseguera Cervantes — still on the Drug Enforcement Administration's Most Wanted list — and his drug dynasty, the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, or CJNG.

In this wanted poster, the U.S. announces a rare $10 million reward for help finding El Mencho, a ruthless cartel boss and billionaire.
In this wanted poster, the U.S. announces a rare $10 million reward for help finding El Mencho, a ruthless cartel boss and billionaire.

La Negra will be credited with time served in jail. The judge ordered her to remain on supervised release for two years after she finishes her time behind bars.

She almost must pay a fine of $20,500, according to court records. Prosecutors had lobbied for a fine of at least $25,000 and up to $5 million, arguing that she had access to assets. Agents believe CJNG is a billion-dollar global drug network, detected on every continent except Antarctica. Her attorney disagreed, saying she wouldn't be able to pay any fine.

During the past two decades, more than 2,000 individuals and entities have been hit with civil sanctions under the Kingpin Act, including hefty fines and frozen assets, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. However, criminal charges and prison stints using this law are much more rare.

During the hearing, held through video conferencing, the judge granted Steven J. McCool's request to recommend sending his client to a prison camp at FCI Dublin in Dublin, California. Placement decisions are made by the federal Bureau of Prisons.

"We are disappointed that Jessica remains incarcerated," McCool said in an email to the Louisville Courier Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. "But we recognize that Judge Howell carefully considered the relevant factors and imposed a fair sentence."

La Negra pleaded guilty in March to violating the Kingpin Act for her association with businesses linked to her father, designated a kingpin by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2015. That included helping manage or promote a sushi restaurant, cabana resort, tequila label, agricultural company and advertising firm. However, La Negra tried to distance herself from her father and his global drug empire.

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CJNG has an estimated 5,000 members and is violent, frequently blamed for mass graves, kidnappings, acid baths and video recorded beheadings.

CJNG member showing off his gun and mask
CJNG member showing off his gun and mask

Prosecutors accused La Negra of lying to the probation officer who prepared a report on her legal and social background to the judge before her sentencing. They claim they have evidence indicating she helped provide bookkeeping services for the "ruthless and violent" cartel at the behest of her father.

They allege that El Mencho, 54, instructed her to manage the resort, Las Flores Cabañas, located in the plush mountains of Tapalpa, a city in the western state of Jalisco, the headquarters of CJNG.

The witness claimed El Mencho met with his daughter at the resort in 2011 and directed her to review drug accounting ledgers "so that she could confront a cartel member who was suspected of stealing from the cartel," prosecutors allege in court documents.

La Negra insists she hasn't seen her father since she was 11 years old and living in San Francisco. She said he separated from her mother in 1996 when he was deported. That was the third time El Mencho was deported and after he served more than four years in prison for selling heroin to two undercover officers in Los Angeles.

El Mencho's sneaked into the U.S. and was caught selling drugs in the 1980s and 1990s in San Francisco. He spent four years in prison and was deported.
El Mencho's sneaked into the U.S. and was caught selling drugs in the 1980s and 1990s in San Francisco. He spent four years in prison and was deported.

That one mention of her father is the only reference to him in her attorney's 100-page memo lobbying for leniency. Her father, also known as "Nemesio," is never mentioned by name and there is no reference to his cartel.

El Mencho is one of America's most sought after fugitives, with a $10 million reward for help capturing him. CJNG is blamed along with the infamous Sinaloa Cartel for the bulk of illegal drugs saturating the U.S. and killing more than 83,000 people in a 12-month period ending in July 2020.

DEA agents, along with Mexican military and federal police, have been searching for El Mencho since 2011. A state trooper and DEA intelligence analyst based in Gulfport, Mississippi, learned the drug lord's whereabouts in 2012 and shared that information with Mexican military officials.

On Aug. 25, 2012, five Blackhawks and one Mi-17 helicopter headed to the cartel’s compound in Tonaya, Jalisco, a five-hour drive southeast of Puerto Vallarta. El Mencho ordered his men to stay behind and shoot at police and soldiers so he and his son, Rubén Oseguera González — known as Menchito — could escape out the back, according to DEA sources.

Heir to cartel throne, Rubén Oseguera González, called "Menchito," now in U.S. jail awaiting trial
Heir to cartel throne, Rubén Oseguera González, called "Menchito," now in U.S. jail awaiting trial

As bullets rained down, four of El Mencho’s followers were killed and three soldiers were injured.

Prosecutors claim they have a key witness who would have testified if La Negra had gone to trial about seeing her and her father at the 2011 meeting as well as another meeting several months after the deadly shootout with law enforcement.

The witness claims the second meeting was at a ranch, where El Mencho and his daughter had a discussion "concerning a discrepancy about money purportedly owed to the cartel and reflected in ledgers" handled by La Negra. Several court documents in the case remain sealed and those that are accessible don't elaborate about where that meeting allegedly took place or who the cartel leader blamed for the missing money.

"Ms. Gonzalez admits that the entities she associated with were designated for supporting drug trafficking and specifically the CJNG," her attorney, Steven J. McCool wrote in court documents. "Ms. Gonzalez does not accept the claim that she met with her father."

The department published a drug trafficking network organizational chart with photos of her father and uncle at the top.

Previously: A ruthless Mexican drug lord’s empire is devastating families with its grip on small-town USA

With El Mencho at large, agents unfairly honed in on his daughter, her attorney argued in a motion alleging "vindictive prosecution" and citing the rarity of the charges against her.

La Negra was vulnerable to charges of violating the Kingpin Act because she was born in San Francisco and is a dual citizen. Americans are not allowed to associate or even patronize businesses blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department. The five businesses associated with La Negra, including Onze Black tequila, were blacklisted in 2015 and listed on the Treasury Department's cartel organizational chart.

Prosecutors argued that La Negra knew she was in the wrong because she spent years trying to avoid Kingpin Act sanctions, moving the sushi restaurant and disbanding two businesses. They claim she also renamed the cabana resort, later called Cabañas La Loma, to try and fool U.S. investigators.

La Negra was surprised by her arrest in February 2020, when she traveled from her home in Mexico to the United States to attend an arraignment for her brother, Menchito, at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. Her attorney argued to keep the details of her arrest and her brother's case from jurors if there had been a trial. Menchito remains jailed on international drug trafficking and weapons charges and is alleged to have been the No. 2 in command of the cartel.

In her letter to the judge, La Negra pleaded to be reunited with her children and expressed remorse.

"I ask for forgiveness, and say, without hesitation, that I regret everything I did that may have caused any harm," she said in the letter.

"Today, more than ever, it is clear to me that I should have paid more attention to my actions and my actions’ consequences."

Follow reporter Beth Warren on Twitter: @BethWarrenCJ.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: La Negra, daughter of CJNG cartel boss El Mencho, sentenced in U.S.

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