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LATIN AMERICA

El Chapo’s alleged money launderer arrested while on vacation

Associate known as “King Midas” loosened security measures during holiday, say police

Retrato de Juan Manuel Álvarez
Photo of Juan Manuel Álvarez published by Mexican federal police.

Mexico’s federal police have arrested Juan Manuel Álvarez Inzunza, the man they believe to be responsible for laundering the ill-gotten gains of drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the Sinaloa cartel. The 34-year-old Inzunza organized a network of bank accounts under false names in the states of Sinaloa and Jalisco, through which he is alleged to have funneled between $300 and $400 million a year from the drug trade, Mexico’s federal police say. Álvarez is also known as “Rolando Osuna Godoy,” “Erik Tadeo Inzunza Zazueta,” “Juan Manuel Salas Rojo” and “Juan Manuel Tamayo Ibarra.”

Álvarez was arrested on Sunday while on vacation in Oaxaca.

The laundering ring is alleged to pass through three Mexican cities and includes locations in Colombia, Panama and the United States

The Mexican National Security Commission issued a statement saying Álvarez Inzunza – nicknamed “King Midas” – usually stayed in Sinaloa and Jalisco, his base of operation, but he “relaxed security” measures during his time off in Oaxaca, a decision that made it easier to apprehend him.

According to the police investigation, El Chapo’s alleged financial chief has an international money laundering ring that passes through the Mexican cities Tijuana, Culiacán, Guadalajara and includes locations in Colombia, Panama and the United States, where he is wanted on laundering charges. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a provisional extradition warrant for him.

The detainee was transferred to Mexico City and remains in custody pending the decision of the organized crime unit at the Mexican Attorney General’s Office.

The operation took place a day after authorities arrested nine alleged members of the Sinaloa cartel in Caborca, Sonora.

Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera has been in the headlines since last July, when the drug kingpin escaped from El Altiplano maximum security prison outside Mexico City via a 1,500-meter-long tunnel dug under the facility. His escape caused huge embarrassment to the administration of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and turned the recapture of the Sinaloa cartel leader into the greatest challenge of the president’s term of office so far. El Chapo was eventually caught in his home state of Sinaloa in January of this year.

English version by Dyane Jean François.

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