Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mexico's Organized Crime Strike Force searches Mérida residences of Yucatán narco queen

*Jan. 18, 2013 - Mérida millionairess convicted on all counts in Nicaragua; sentenced to 30 years*

Mérida, Yucatán -
News sources have reported that agents of Mexico's federal Organized Crime Strike Force executed search warrants today at Mérida residences belonging to Juana Raquel Alvarado Torres, a Mexican citizen arrested in Nicaragua last August.

The residences searched, some of which are described as luxury, included homes in upscale Colonia Altabrisa. A 60 acre ranch owed by Alvarado in Teya, Yucatán, on the outskirts of this city, was also raided by SEIDO agents.

Alvarado Torres and 17 other Mexican nationals were detained while posing as Televisa journalists in Nicaragua. They were driving vehicles with the company's corporate logo, carrying $9.2 million dollars in cash. All are facing serious charges, including drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime activity. Their trial begins early next month in Managua. Televisa has said that it knows nothing about the suspects, and is an innocent victim of their cash smuggling operation.

MGRR reported on this case for The Yucatan Times of Mérida last week: Narcos invest in Mérida luxury homes.

There is no indication what agents were looking for today. Mexico has no equivalent of the U.S. Fourth Amendment, and detailed search warrant affidavits and applications are not obligatory.

Oct. 25 - The drug dealer in pinstripes

Oct. 25 - Yesterday's search, at a prestigious development known as Residencial Marsella Altabrisa, lasted more than four hours. News reports say that Alvarado purchased 12 lots in Marsella in 2010-11, and built homes on five of them. Federal Police agents participated in the surprise operation which began at 6:00 a.m., seizing boxes of documents from a safe found in one of the homes.

Area residents were said to be perturbed by the heavy law enforcement presence. Local streets were closed down, and there was no ingress or egress for property owners, effectively trapping them in or out of their homes. Neighbors reported that they had never seen Alvarado, but luxury vehicles were often parked on or near her properties.

Oct. 28 - The fair market value of five homes and four luxury vehicles which federal strike force agents seized last week, all held in the name of Juana Alvarado Torres, is estimated at 40 million pesos - well over $3 million dollars. Personal property seized included two Porsches and a Cadillac Escalade SUV. Sources say the Colonia Altabrisa raid uncovered documents indicating Alvarado was involved in drug trafficking and money laundering operations.

Nov. 2 - A preliminary hearing for Alvarado Torres and her 17 confederates will begin next week in Managua, with the trial currently scheduled for December. All are charged with drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime. Nicaraguan prosecutors accuse them of hauling huge quantities of drugs from Costa Rica to Mexico, no doubt for ultimate delivery to the United States.

Dec. 10 - The trial of Alvarado Torres and the others opened today. It's expected to last most of the week. Prosecutors accuse her of being the ringleader of the group, and say the others called her la licenciada, which might be translated as "the graduate." From 2008-2012 five of the conspirators made up to 44 trips between Central America and Mexico. The vehicles they used revealed traces of cocaine, according to investigators.

Narcos know where to invest: in Mexico's City of Peace
Routine traffic stop in Mérida yields "Boss of the Plaza"
Political power is ultimate goal of Mexican drug cartels, says U.S. security expert
Yucatán a haven for Mexican fugitives
Yucatán - and half of Mexico - belong to Los Zetas, says deputy attorney general
U.S. intensely focused on Yucatán security in 2008-2009

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