“El Chapo was violent, but El Mencho has taken it to a new level,” said one DEA special agent.
With El Chapo—once the world’s most notorious drug lord—set to live out the rest of his life in a U.S. prison, another drug lord has emerged to fill his place.
El Mencho (born Nemesio Oseguera-Cervantes) is the leader of Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel (JNGC), believed by U.S. officials to be Mexico’s largest criminal organization.
According to Matthew Donahue, the DEA’s regional director of North and Central America, capturing El Mencho is the agency’s “number one priority.”
El Mencho lived in California “some 30 years ago” when he was deported to Mexico following a drug arrest, according to CBS News.
Building His Empire
Since then, he built his empire and expanded it throughout Mexico and major U.S. cities like Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, New York, Atlanta and Chicago.
“He’s made few errors, has a lot of street experience, and that’s made it very difficult for us to manage the investigation to arrest him,” Kyle Mori, a DEA special agent in Los Angeles, told Univision. “He’s an intelligent guy, very good at what he does.”
DEA officials say JNGC is responsible for at least a third of the drugs entering the U.S. by land and sea, including “tons” of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced heroin, according to the Justice Department.
$10 Million Bounty On His Head
The U.S. government has offered $10 million for the drug lord’s capture.
JNGC has also gained a reputation for brutal violence. “El Chapo was violent, but El Mencho has taken it to a new level,” said Mori.
Mori believes that JNGC is not only more violent, but larger in every way than El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel, which is still operating under new leadership, according to PBS.
The Justice Department once described the Sinaloa Cartel as “one of the world’s most prolific, violent and powerful drug cartels.”
El Chapo (born Joaquín Guzman) was convicted in February of 10 counts including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, international distribution of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and other drugs, and use of firearms. In July, he was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years, and ordered to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.
Guzman was once on Forbes’ list of billionaires, highlighting the massive wealth that he accumulated from his drug trafficking empire. He is also known for escaping prison twice in Mexico.