“Morogris” for Borderland Beat
|Raul Flores Hernandez (El Tío) was sentenced to 262 months (21.8 years) in jail
A U.S. federal decide has imposed a 22-year sentence on Raúl Flores Hernández, generally often known as “El Tío” (The Uncle), an impartial drug kingpin who had strategic alliances throughout numerous drug cartels. Moreover, he has been instructed to forfeit $280 million in drug proceeds.
At 74 years outdated, this sentence primarily interprets to a life sentence for El Tío.
U.S. authorities say that El Tio was a long-time worldwide drug kingpin. Though he operated independently, El Tio maintained ties with a number of drug cartels in Mexico for the reason that Nineteen Eighties. He reportedly had drug and cash laundering ties with the Jalisco New Technology Cartel (CJNG), Sinaloa Cartel, Gulf Cartel, and the Beltran Leyva Group (BLO).
His legal community was principally based mostly in Guadalajara and Mexico Metropolis, and included an enormous internet of members of the family and trusted associates. El Tio can be accused of negotiating and trafficking giant quantities of cocaine with numerous Mexican legal teams, along with working with Colombian drug suppliers and controlling transport routes from Mexico to the US.
“[El Tio] has operated for many years due to his longstanding relationships with different drug cartels and his use of monetary entrance individuals to masks his investments of unlawful drug proceeds,” stated OFAC Director John E. Smith in 2017.
Even after admitting guilt, El Tio constantly contested quite a few allegations made by the federal government. This disagreement resulted in a divided sentencing listening to that spanned three days in September.
Lately, U.S. District Choose Beryl Howell, contemplating proof introduced in the course of the listening to and written arguments from each prosecutors and El Tio’s protection, handed down a sentence of 21 years and 10 months in jail. Moreover, El Tio was ordered to forfeit $280 million in drug proceeds.
In line with prosecutors, the testimony of 4 witnesses within the preliminary sentencing listening to supplied proof that implicated El Tio within the trafficking of roughly 247,909 kilos of cocaine from South America to Mexico, using oil tanks. Prosecutors asserted that round half of this amount was below El Tio’s private possession, whereas the remaining half belonged to his associates.
Utilizing a conservative estimate, prosecutors calculated that, excluding the worth of seized drug shipments and contemplating the decrease finish of the estimated worth per kilogram of cocaine, El Tio individually accrued a minimal of $680 million in drug proceeds over 4 distinct intervals spanning from 1983 to 2008.
In line with prosecutors, El Tio entered the world of cocaine trafficking by means of connections with Sinaloa cartel kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, an notorious determine in Mexico’s drug historical past, and Héctor Beltrán Leyva, a outstanding chief within the Sinaloa cartel till a violent feud resulted in a break up in 2008.
Regardless of partaking in substantial drug trafficking operations and collaborating with infamous kingpins, El Tio maintained a comparatively low profile throughout most of Mexico, besides in Guadalajara. There, he owned a number of companies and a thriving nightclub, contributing to his recognition in that particular area.
Within the sentencing paperwork, protection lawyer Sandi Rhee asserted that El Tio disputes being characterised as a drug kingpin. Rhee emphasised a big distinction, stating:
“And in sharp distinction to many different drug traffickers … it’s undisputed that Mr. Flores [El Tio] has by no means engaged in violence.”
|Cash laundering community of El Tio, as proven by the OFAC (picture credit score: US Treasury)
El Tio and his lawyer contended that, in contrast to many different outstanding drug traffickers, El Tio devoted a good portion of his time to reputable companies. These ventures concerned importing generic model electronics from the U.S. and promoting them in Mexico.
Nevertheless, prosecutors countered this argument, asserting that El Tio collaborated with or labored for violent cartels and their leaders. They claimed he not solely led his personal intensive trafficking group but additionally engaged in bribing public officers. Testimony introduced in the course of the September listening to indicated that one official he allegedly bribed within the early 2000s is now a state governor in Mexico.
El Tio and Rhee requested the decide to discredit the testimony of not less than one witness, Elpidio Mojarro Ramirez, a former high-level operative within the drug world. They argued that recorded jail cellphone calls revealed Ramirez asking members of the family and buddies to assemble particulars about El Tio from information stories.
As reported by Mexican information shops, Mojarro, also known as “El Pilo,” is acknowledged as a sworn adversary of Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes, the top of the Jalisco New Technology Cartel, a outstanding and violent drug cartel in Mexico. Mojarro seemingly vanished from the drug world a number of years in the past, and his location remained unknown till the earlier summer time when he resurfaced in U.S. custody. He subsequently supplied testimony towards El Tio and one other drug trafficker in a separate authorized continuing.
El Tio and his lawyer contended that the credibility of cooperating witnesses, Mojarro included, must be questioned, notably relating to their testimony asserting that El Tiohad been concerned in drug trafficking with practically each Mexican cartel over the previous 4 many years. Regardless of these arguments, Rhee famous that the decide didn’t dismiss the testimony of those witnesses throughout Flores’ sentencing.
As per prosecutors, after El Tio’s sentencing within the District of Columbia, his two San Diego indictments are set to be dismissed. Though the native indictments have been saved below seal, a co-defendant named Victor “Chi Chi” Hugo Anez Vaca Diez, an alleged Bolivian trafficker, was extradited to San Diego from Argentina final yr.
The unsealed indictment towards Anez Vaca suggests the involvement of roughly 12 or extra defendants within the case, going through prices associated to drug trafficking and cash laundering offenses throughout Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico, and Peru.
Observe: Case Quantity 17-CR-51 (BAH) (District of D.C.)