(CN) – Mexican officials on Sunday said they have arrested the top money launderer for El Chapo Guzman, who moved hundreds of millions of dollars a year through money exchange houses, and are holding him for extradition to the United States.
Juan Manuel Álvarez Inzunza, 34, was arrested in Oaxaca, the Mexico City-based Reforma newspaper Reforma reported Sunday. The newspaper did not say when Álvarez was arrested. It said “elite groups” with the Federal Judicial Police and the Mexican Army nabbed him while he was vacationing in Oaxaca.
Álvarez, who also used the aliases Erick Tadeo Inzunza Zazueta, Juan Manuel Salas Rojo, and Juan Manuel Tamayo Ibarra, is also known as “King Midas.”
Reforma said he moved $300 million to $400 million a year for Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel through a “net” of businesses and casas de cambio, money exchange houses, primarily in the states of Sinaloa and Jalisco, and also in Tijuana (Baja California), the United States, Panama and Colombia. Reforma said he has been laundering money for the cartel for a decade.
Álvarez is being held in a federal prison in Mexico City.
Guzman, who was recaptured in January after breaking out of prison for the second time, is also in prison awaiting extradition to the United States, where he is charged with drug trafficking and murder. He is believed to be one of the world’s most powerful drug lords.
Arrests of top drug lords in Mexico seldom, if ever, reduce drug trafficking. Rather, they tend to set off cartel wars, as top lieutenants and rival cartels fight over the plaza, or territory, that belonged to the arrested chief.
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