Mexico’s powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel has a side-business to drug-trafficking: cheating American tourists via fraudulent timeshare apartment scams.
The U.S. government just sanctioned eight Mexican companies established in the beach resort of Puerto Vallarta and used by the cartel—often referred to via the acronym CJNG—to scam U.S. tourists, according to the Treasury Department.
The scheme made the owners of timeshare apartments believe they were getting purchase offers for their real estate from potential buyers. The company would then ask the timeshare owners to pay some fees and taxes to complete sales transactions, but then disappear, according to a press release put out by the U.S. Department of Treasury on March 2nd.
The Treasury Department said that the eight companies, which claimed to be financial services or real estate companies, are linked directly or indirectly to CJNG and its timeshare fraud activities.
“As CJNG has consolidated territory over the past decade, it has added other crimes to its core activity of drug trafficking,” said OFAC Director Andrea M. Gacki.
Three of the companies are based in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco; two are based in the nearby resort town of Bucerías, Nayarit; and another three are located in Guadalajara, Jalisco, according to the Treasury Department. Most of the companies have been operating since at least 2013, according to documents reviewed by VICE World News.