Néstor Tarazona Enciso, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, arrested in Colombia

Néstor Tarazona Enciso, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, is arrested in Colombia. He has been investigated as responsible for setting up a financial company to launder money from 'Chapo' Guzmán.

Néstor Tarazona Enciso, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, arrested in Colombia
Néstor Tarazona Enciso. Image: Agencies

Colombian police captured today August 30, 2021 Néstor Tarazona Enciso, head of a criminal network at the service of the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels in Mexico, in the city of Pereira, capital of the Risaralda department (center). Tarazona Enciso is accused of money laundering and illicit enrichment of individuals, and has been investigated as responsible for setting up a financial company to launder money for Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera.

According to the information, Tarazona remained anonymous and worked as a breeder of Paso horses and exotic birds, and it is estimated that he illegally increased his wealth by more than 17 billion pesos (more than $4.46 million in today's dollars) since 1999.

"After the capture of "Chapo" Guzman in 2014, he suspended business with the Sinaloa cartel and offered his services to the Jalisco New Generation cartel in southeastern Mexico, and became a partner of Guillermo Leon Acevedo Giraldo, known as 'Memo Fantasma,'" the police added.

"Memo Fantasma," a powerful drug trafficker who for decades managed to maintain anonymity and elude justice while allegedly trafficking tons of cocaine, was captured by police in Bogota last June in Bogota.

Money from Mexican mafia allegedly laundered through ostrich breeding in Colombia

The capture of the horseman Néstor Alonso Tarazona Enciso revealed the alleged maneuvers that would have been carried out to launder money from drug deals with the Sinaloa cartel and the New Generation cartel. Tarazona, who was captured on Saturday night in Pereira, did not accept the charges of money laundering and illicit enrichment and was ordered to be held in a prison.

The man had been reported on the blacklist of the US Treasury Department, considered as one of the links of the Sinaloa cartel, led at the time by Joaquín 'Chapo' Guzmán, extradited from Mexico to the US in January 2017. In 2009, the horseman appeared in a report by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac), as part of the Sinaloa cartel's organizational chart and accused of providing material support to the illegal organization through two companies he owned, Agropecuaria La Cruz S. A. and Criadero Las Cabañas Ltda.

According to the investigation of prosecutor 24 for money laundering, the man set up companies for the distribution of agricultural products and services, as well as a poultry farm with money that he could not justify. These companies were dedicated to the breeding of horses and ostriches, which were part of a fattening business and the sale of their meat.

"These illicit activities allowed Néstor Tarazona and Teresa Ortega (his wife) to increase their wealth in an unjustified manner and to acquire high value real estate and personal property, which are registered in the name of third parties that are part of their family nucleus", said the Prosecutor's Office during the indictment hearing.

In the companies Agropecuaria La Cruz and Criadero Las Cabañas Ltda., according to the investigation, his participation in the business appears together with shares held by his partner and his children, who at the time were minors. The Prosecutor's Office was also struck by the fact that these companies dedicated to livestock and poultry farming operated in apartments.

The prosecutor pointed out that the company Agropecuaria La Cruz S. A. was liquidated in 2013, "that is to say that, for 15 years, Tarazona Enciso provided material support to the Sinaloa cartel through this front company". He also questioned that double accounting was detected in the firm. Only between 2007 and 2008, the company acquired loans in the form of leasing for 2,200 million pesos, which were paid in full in 2010. This, for the Prosecutor's Office, is evidence that the company would have been used to mix legal and illegal resources coming from drug business.

The investigation states that only in one year 1,300 million pesos were hidden, which were obtained on account of income and the sale of properties such as El Cámbula and El Galpón, located in San Martín, Meta, where the captured had established his center of operations.

In another of his companies, Criadero Las Cabañas Ltda., there were 23 walking equines (trot and gallop), 6 walking equines (trot and gallop), 24 walking equines (pure Colombian trot), 2 walking equines (Colombian Paso Fino), when the Prosecutor's Office considers that he did not have the income to buy those animals. This company, between the years 2001, 2008, 2009 and 2011, would have hidden 1,328 million pesos from the Colombian State.

The captured man's wife, according to the investigation, is accused of trying to give the appearance of legality to 2,682 million pesos through the acquisition of vehicles, personal property, real estate and other assets, and also records an increase in assets of 4,807 million pesos. The Prosecutor's Office considers that the captured person should remain deprived of his freedom because of his economic power and his proximity to influential people could affect the investigation.