Many newspaper headlines will speak of her as the wife of. But Rosalinda González Valencia, 58, has too heavy a surname to appear exclusively in criminal history as someone’s wife. She is married to Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias El Mencho, one of the most powerful drug lords in the world, who founded the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG) with meteoric success in 2010 and has sown terror and chaos in every corner of Mexico. Her husband’s resume is eye-catching enough to overshadow her figure. But the history of El Mencho cannot be explained without Valencia. The business-savvy niece of a powerful narco from the nineties and heir to a criminal clan, with five brothers and two detained children, has financially raised those of Jalisco to what they are now. The fall of the boss shakes the most feared cartel in the country.
González Valencia, alias La Jefa, was arrested this Monday in an Army operation in Zapopan, on the outskirts of Guadalajara. But it is not the first time that the wife of El Mencho and leader of the Valencia clan is captured and later released. The first time that Rosalinda stepped on a jail was in May 2018, also in Zapopan, shortly before President Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the elections and within the framework of the war of the previous Government of Enrique Peña Nieto against the Jalisco cartel, his last battle against the narco. In September of that year, she was released after paying a bail of 1.5 million pesos (about $ 72,000). And in June of this year a federal judge linked her to the process again for being related to a network of 73 companies that laundered 1,100 million pesos (about 53 million dollars) for the cartel between 2015 and 2016. The audience was of little use , since the magistrate concluded that there was insufficient evidence and he was released again.
Rosalinda’s criminal career, according to information from the authorities, did not begin with her marriage. His uncle and family patriarch, Armando Valencia, alias El Maradona, founded one of the most powerful cartels in the 1990s, the Millennium Cartel. The avocado family originally from Michoacán – the birthplace of the businessmen exporting this fruit – soon learned how to diversify their business from marijuana, Colombian cocaine to synthetic drugs. The Millennials were among the first in those years to specialize in the production of this type of narcotic drug. Rosalinda and her brothers – the authorities estimate that there are about 15, although the number varies from 12 to 18 – have since dedicated themselves to growing the family drug business and regrouped years later in the well-known money laundering business cartel : Los Cuinis.
The Cuinis, led by Rosalinda’s brother, Abigael – imprisoned in the Altiplano since 2015 – are accused by the DEA and the Mexican Prosecutor’s Office of functioning as the financial and business arm of the powerful Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel. The authorities consider that they are two sides of the same coin. Those from Jalisco, led by El Mencho, are in charge of drug trafficking and its operations, in addition to conquering places, waging war on enemy territories and those responsible for much of the escalation of violence that Mexico suffers. And, on the other hand, Los Cuinis, have dedicated themselves to building an empire of establishments, from beauty clinics, to hotels, restaurants and fairs that has allowed the cartel to launder its money, and financially consolidate itself as one of the most powerful in the world. world.
The Valencia gang – whose name comes from a small squirrel known in Michoacán as cuinique, due to its enormous capacity to reproduce – has been in the crosshairs of the US authorities since 2015. In that year the DEA considered it as the Mexican cartel, linked to Jalisco, with the greatest economic capacity in the world. In February of that year, Abigael was captured in Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco) and continues to be imprisoned while avoiding, through legal procedures, an extradition process to the United States. After him four other brothers fell: José, Gerardo, Arnulfo and Ulises. José was extradited a week ago to the United States from Brazil, the country to which he fled after Abigael’s capture.
The marriage between Rosalinda and El Mencho sealed, like a medieval alliance, the power of two worlds. The one with the bazookas and the one with the dollars. El Mencho, 55, also originally from Aguililla (Michoacán), had worked with the family from a young age, guarding their avocado fields and later as an operator in the drug trade. He went, like many of the Valencia brothers to the United States, wet (illegal), at the age of 14. There he was arrested at 20 for drug possession and was deported. Like many others, he tried again. In 1994, at the age of 28, he was arrested for selling heroin and returned to his country again. Some articles relate him in those years to Abigael and a drug trafficking network in California. Together they later formed the powerful criminal group.
The hunt against Los Cuinis also claimed other victims. The only son of Rosalinda and El Mencho, Rubén Oseguera (El Menchito) and future heir to the criminal organization, was arrested in 2015 and extradited to the United States in 2020, after three failed attempts to capture and prosecute him in Mexico. The cartel took revenge for the extradition with the murder of one of the Mexican judges linked to the process, Uriel Villegas, shot in Colima with his wife. And a few days after Menchito stepped onto US soil, his sister, Jessica Johanna Oseguera, who had attended his hearing in Washington, was captured on charges of money laundering.
The marriage witnessed the drug boom of the 1990s and the battle between the drug cartels to take over the plazas in the 2000s. The harassment of the bloodthirsty Zetas caused the Valencians to flee Michoacán. And soon, what was left of the Millennium cartel was configured into the armed wing of the historical, those of Sinaloa, to end them together. Before they called themselves Jalisco Nueva Generación, they were known as Los matazetas. In September 2011, the emerging cartel left in an exclusive area of Boca del Río (Veracruz), in the heart of the Zeta territory, its letter of introduction: 35 bodies on the asphalt of Avenida de Ruiz Cortines. And in 2015, they had already separated from those in Sinaloa and formed their own organization. In that year, after a failed operation to stop Mencho, they shot down a military helicopter with a rocket launcher.
The Mencho cartel has grown in the shadow of other better known ones such as Sinaloa, Los Zetas or Los Caballeros Templarios. While the security forces focused on breaking the backs of the big mafias during Felipe Calderón’s war (2006-2012) against drug trafficking and which Enrique Peña Nieto continued until 2018, the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, relatively young, was taking over , like a reptile from the niches left by its enemies.
While this was happening, Rosalinda’s family was in charge of washing their accounts. Successfully launder the money that financed wars, corrupt officials and the complex drug trafficking scheme that has made the organization the most powerful in the country along with that of Sinaloa. Between the two, they control the entire national territory and have subjected the country to the bloodiest figures in its history, with more than 100,000 missing and almost 100 homicides a day.
With the fall of Rosalinda, which joins those of her brothers-in-law and her children, the fence around Mencho tightens. The identity card photograph of his wife crossed out in red this Monday configures a new scheme in which few of those who originally founded the cartel, in addition to Rosalinda’s little sisters and their leader, are still free.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.