Authorities freeze 127 bank accounts linked to suspects in Mexico City’s police chief attack

“MX” for Borderland Beat; TY to “Chava”

UIF chief Santiago Nieto Castillo
Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) confirmed yesterday that they froze 127 bank accounts owned by people linked to the assassination attempt against Mexico City police chief Omar Garcia Harfuch carried out last week.
30 of them were owned by the would-be assassins; the remaining 97 were owned by family members or people who worked closely with them. The total monetary amount frozen was not publicly released to the press but the UIF said they were working together with the banks to determine the exact amount.
The UIF confirmed that they carried out this measure after Jose Armando Briseno (El Vaca), the suspect mastermind of the attack, told investigators that he paid each sicario MXN$100,000 to participate in Garcia Harfuch’s hit.
The UIF traced El Vaca’s bank accounts and froze his accounts and all accounts he deposited money to. UIF chief Santiago Nieto Castillo told reporters that they froze the accounts so that the family members are unable to use the money the attackers were paid.

Assassination attempt
Borderland Beat reported last week that heavily armed gunmen attacked and wounded Mexico City police chief Omar Garcia Harfuch while he was heading to a meeting with mayor Claudia Sheinbaum. Three trucks blocked Garcia Harfuch’s SUV and opened fire in what authorities described as an “unprecedented” incident in Mexico City.

Two people from Garcia Harfuch’s security detail were killed. The third was a women who happened to be driving by when the gunmen opened fire. On his way to the hospital, Garcia Harfuch tweeted that the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) was responsible for the attack.

“This morning we were attacked in a cowardly way by the CJNG. Two colleagues and friends of mine lost their lives. Our country must continue to confront organized crime groups,” he said.

Over the course of a week, Mexican authorities carried out a large manhunt to arrest those responsible for the crime. Within a few hours, they arrested 21 people who directly and indirectly participated in the attack. This latest measure by the UIF is part of crackdowns by security forces to weakened the CJNG.
The UIF was formed in 2004 to combat money laundering and illegal financial activities in Mexico. Its role in Mexico’s ongoing drug war has increased drastically under Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO).
In 2019, the UIF froze four times the number of accounts that were frozen the year before. Some of the investigations conducted by the UIF have uncovered important money laundering operations owned by Mexico’s major drug gangs, including the CJNG.
However, many cases also deal with political and business corruption and not with drug cartel activity. Some critics have said that the UIF is not politically independent and its powers may be abused if the government does not figure out a way to create a checks and balances system within it.

Financial measures against the CJNG
Last month, Borderland Beat reported that the UIF froze nearly 2,000 bank accounts owned by the CJNG. They did not disclose the amount in these frozen accounts, but officials said they noticed suspicious transactions totaling US$1 billion.

Several high-ranking CJNG members had their accounts frozen. One of them was Juan Manuel Abouzaid (“El Bayeh” AKA “El Escorpion”), who Borderland Beat identified last week as a close associate of cartel leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes (“El Mencho”). Another important individual was Ana Paulina Barajas Sahd, who operated several businesses on behalf of her husband Ulises Gonzalez Valencia, a member of Los Cuinis.

The accounts owned by the brothers Carlos Alberto and Genaro Cedano Filippini were also frozen. Mexican authorities say they head group called the Tabasco Cartel (Spanish: Cartel de Tabasco), which has close ties to the CJNG.

In addition, Mexican officials froze the bank accounts owned by Telesforo Baltazar Tirado Escamilla, founder of a business known as Farmaceutica Collins. In 2009, U.S. authorities identified him as a high-ranking member of the Colima Cartel (also known as the Amezcua Contreras Organization).

Mexican authorities say that this man is one of the main precursor drug suppliers for the CJNG. They are also investigating the following individuals: María Teresa Díaz Castro, Rolando Tirado Díaz, Liliana Guadalupe Tirado Díaz, Baltazar Tirado Díaz, Luis Alfonso Tirado Díaz and María Teresa Tirado Díaz, all linked to the CJNG.

Sources: Proceso; La Razon; Milenio