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Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks at Joint Press Conference on Efforts to Target and Dismantle CJNG


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Good afternoon and thank you all for being here.

I want to thank Acting Administrator Dhillon, Deputy Director Bowdich, Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski, Director (Andrea) Gacki and Assistant Secretary (Kirsten) Madison for being here and for their hard work on what we’re announcing today.

For four years in a row, the DEA’s National Drug Threat Assessment has stated that Mexican drug cartels “remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States; no other group is currently positioned to challenge them.”

Every day, these cartels are taking advantage of our porous Southern border to move and push their illegal drugs for large profits – expanding suffering and death along the way.

Very few of the illicit drugs that are killing Americans are made in the United States.

The vast majority were brought here across our Southern Border. This is indisputable. Every day we go without a secure border—and without a wall—is another day that we are vulnerable.

To build the wall, we need Congress to act. To close the loopholes, we need Congress to act.

But we cannot wait for Congress. We are resolutely determined to use every power of this Department of Justice against the cartels.

This is not business as usual.

The day I was sworn in as Attorney General, President Trump sent me an order to dismantle transnational criminal organizations like the cartels. We have been faithful to that order every single day.

Yesterday, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and I announced new leadership in the Department’s efforts against these groups. We announced the new head of our Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces, Adam Cohen. Adam, thank you for being here.

We also announced the Department’s new Director of Counter-Transnational Organized Crime, Patrick Hovakimian. These are experienced, capable, and highly motivated leaders who are going to drive our efforts to carry out the President’s order to disrupt and dismantle these organizations.

I also announced our new Transnational Organized Crime Task Force, and I designated five groups as targets for the Task Force:

  • MS-13,
  • the Sinaloa Cartel,
  • the Clan del Golfo,
  • Hezbollah,
  • and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion—or CJNG, which is one of the biggest and most powerful cartels in Mexico.

We consider this cartel to be one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations on the face of the Earth—and it is doing unimaginable damage to the people of this nation.

CJNG was founded only nine years ago, but it already has a presence in three-quarters of all Mexican states as well as in Europe, Asia, and Australia. CJNG has a presence in cities all across the United States: from San Diego to Omaha to Roanoke to New York City, and Orlando.

We believe that they traffick at least five tons of cocaine and five tons of methamphetamine into the United States every month. We also believe that they are responsible for operating more than 100 methamphetamine labs in Mexico. Such organizations must be confronted and defeated.

Today we are announcing a whole-of-government effort against CJNG. We are hitting them from all sides and with every weapon we have.

First, I am announcing important criminal charges: 15 indictments against a total of 45 CJNG leaders, financiers, transporters, and drug sources.

We have indicted the father and son who lead CJNG. The father, known in the drug trafficking underworld as “El Mencho,” has been designated and sanctioned as a kingpin by the Treasury Department. One other defendant in today’s cases, Abigael Gonzalez Valencia, is a designated kingpin as well.

In total, our partners at the Treasury Department have designated 63 people and entities associated with CJNG for sanctions over the last several years.

Two CJNG members have already pled guilty to attempting to launder more than $100 million in drug money. They are facing up to 20 years in prison.

Members of an affiliated money laundering organization allegedly ran a luxury hotel on the Pacific coast of Mexico that has now been seized by Mexican authorities.

Three of the defendants in today’s cases are in the custody of our allies in Mexico, awaiting extradition to the United States. Many more are fugitives, including the cartel’s leader.

The cases we are announcing today are the result of an investigation by our Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, which do fabulous work every day to take down some of the highest-level drug traffickers in the world.

And so I want to thank OCDETF, the FBI, eight different DEA offices, ATF, U.S. Attorney’s offices from California to Chicago to Virginia as well as four HSI offices for all of their hard work on these cases, and the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug section.

Thank you once again to Acting Administrator Dhillon, Deputy Director Bowdich, and Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski for what you and your teams have accomplished.

I also want to thank our allies in Mexico for their cooperation and assistance. Expanded cooperation is critical to our joint efforts.

More investigations are ongoing and I expect that there will be many more indictments of CJNG members and their affiliates in the future. They are in our crosshairs. This cartel is a top priority.

Every single day the cartels cross our borders, disrespect our sovereignty, and deal poison and death to Americans all across our country. They steal our prosperity, our safety—and destroy tens of thousands of American careers, families, and lives.

They are relentless. They will not let up until they are stopped.

But we intend to stop them. We are targeting them and will use every legal tool in our arsenal. Our team has new energy, new focus, and resolute determination.

At the Department of Justice, we will continue to carry out President Donald Trump’s order to dismantle transnational crime and protect the people of this country. We will assert our sovereignty over our borders and we will ensure that drug traffickers pay a very high price for their crimes.

One of the law enforcement leaders who is helping us to do that is our fabulous Acting Administrator of the DEA, Uttam Dhillon.

Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated October 16, 2018