Notorious Mexican Drug Lord Continues to Use Family Members to Hold His Assets
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Mexican national Diana Espinoza Aguilar (a.k.a. Altagracia Espinoza Aguilar) today as a Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Espinoza Aguilar acts for or on behalf of her reported common-law husband, Rafael Caro Quintero, by holding certain assets and conducting activities on his behalf. Caro Quintero, a major Mexican narcotics trafficker, is a fugitive from U.S. justice and was also the mastermind of the murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent (SA) Enrique Camarena in 1985. As a result of today’s action, any assets that Diana Espinoza Aguilar may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with her.
“Today’s designation of Diana Espinoza Aguilar demonstrates yet again that her reported common-law husband, fugitive drug lord Rafael Caro Quintero, relies heavily on the support of his family members,” said John E. Smith, Acting OFAC Director. “Treasury, in coordination with DEA, is committed to targeting Caro Quintero until he is brought to justice and his organization is dismantled.”
“DEA and Treasury utilize every possible tool to attack and dismantle violent, deadly criminal organizations such as that of Rafael Caro Quintero, who is responsible for the 1985 murder of DEA Special Agent Enrique ‘Kiki’ Camarena,” said DEA Deputy Administrator Jack Riley. “Thanks to this Treasury action, Diana Espinoza Aguilar has been exposed as a key enabler and facilitator for Caro-Quintero and his vicious global drug trafficking and money laundering regime.”
Diana Espinoza Aguilar has had links to drug trafficking activities for years. In 2008, she was arrested in Mexico with her then husband, a Colombian drug trafficker, and was charged with drug trafficking and money laundering-related offenses. Espinoza Aguilar was sentenced to prison and while incarcerated in Puente Grande prison in the Mexican state of Jalisco, she met Caro Quintero who was also incarcerated at the time. Espinoza Aguilar holds some of Caro Quintero’s assets under her name, which he obtained with drug proceeds.
The President identified Caro Quintero as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2000. Caro Quintero began his criminal career in the late 1970s when he co-founded the Guadalajara drug cartel and amassed an illicit fortune. He was convicted in Mexico for his involvement in SA Camarena’s murder and received a 40-year prison sentence. While in prison, Caro Quintero maintained his relationships with Mexican drug trafficking organizations and used a network of family members and front persons to invest his illicit fortune into ostensibly legitimate companies and real estate projects in Guadalajara. On August 9, 2013, Caro Quintero was released from a Mexican prison with 12 years remaining on his sentence. Caro Quintero has continued to engage in drug trafficking activities since his release.
Caro Quintero has been indicted in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on criminal charges related to the kidnapping and murder of SA Camarena as well as drug trafficking. The United States government, led by DEA, is seeking Caro Quintero’s capture and extradition to face these charges. DEA is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest and/or conviction. OFAC and DEA worked closely to execute today’s action.
Since June 2000, more than 1,900 entities and individuals have been named pursuant to the Kingpin Act for their role in international narcotics trafficking. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. Other individuals could face up to 10 years in prison and fines pursuant to Title 18 of the United States Code for criminal violations of the Kingpin Act.