Mexico’s federal police said they have arrested one of the top money launderers for drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who they say laundered $4bn in the past decade.
According to the Twitter account of the Police agency, Juan Manuel Alvarez, also known as “King Midas”, was detained in the southern state of Oaxaca.
Alvarez is suspected of laundering $300m-$400m a year for Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel through a network of front companies bought by third parties and through currency exchange centres, adding up to a total of around $4bn.
In a written statement, the police and the interior department said the arrest was carried out in a joint operation with the army and was the result of intelligence work.
“Groups of elite federal police and the Mexican Army arrested Juan Manuel Alvarez Inzunza, nicknamed ‘El Rey Midas’ (‘King Midas’) in Oaxaca,” the statement said.
The statement said he was arrested on a provisional extradition warrant from the United States, where he is wanted on money laundering charges.
Alvarez operated in Sinaloa and Jalisco states, but was in Oaxaca on holiday when he was detained, and was captured without any “need to shoot off firearms and without putting other citizens at risk,” federal police added.
The Sinaloa Cartel
The Sinaloa Cartel has long been viewed as Mexico’s most profitable drug gang. Guzmán was the one of the Sinaloa cartel’s top leaders before he was arrested in January.
Guzmán is also facing extradition to the US on charges of drug trafficking and murder.
Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel transports multi-ton cocaine shipments from Colombia through Mexico to the United States, the world’s top consumer, and has distribution cells throughout the U.S. The organization has also been involved in the production, smuggling and distribution of Mexican methamphetamine, marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA) and heroin across both North America and Europe.
By the time of his 2014 arrest, Guzmán had exported more drugs to the United States than anyone else: more than 500 tons (450,000 kg) of cocaine in the U.S. alone.
Guzmán was captured in 1993 in Guatemala, extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison in Mexico for murder and drug trafficking. After bribing prison guards, he was able to escape from a federal maximum-security prison in 2001.
He was wanted by the governments of Mexico and the United States, and by INTERPOL. The U.S. offered a US$5 million reward for information leading to his capture, and the Mexican government offered a reward of 60 million pesos (approximately US$3.8 million) for information on Guzmán.
Guzmán was arrested by Mexican authorities in Mexico on 22 February 2014. He was found inside his fourth-floor condominium in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, and was captured without any gunshots being fired. Guzmán escaped from prison again on 11 July 2015 by exiting through a tunnel that led to a nearby construction site. He was recaptured by Mexican marines following a shootout on 8 January 2016.