The underlining problem with the drug trafficking problem is the corruption. Most dialog about drug trafficking focuses on the public corruption in Mexico. Although sometimes acknowledged, for the most part, public corruption in the United States is often overlooked in the part that it plays in the consumption of illicit narcotics. However, one aspect that is seldom discussed is the many business owners that launder drug money through their businesses. Business owners and shareholders alike, like to pretend their hands are clean to the mayhem because, in their minds, they are not criminals. They don’t do the drugs or traffic them across the border is their argument, and because of this they believe they are not criminals. Banks, especially like to profess that they can’t know the money is drug money and thus they should not be liable. Apparently, millions in cash is not something a bank wants to question from where it comes.
The Mexican government has released evidence that shows that Kate del Castillo was in contact with Chapo Guzmán. Castillo also facilitated Sean Penn’s meeting with the drug dealer. Individuals, like Joaquín Guzmán, rely on willing money launderers to violently stay in business. Without money, Guzmán and cohorts would not be able to buy weapons to kill people or buy the vehicles to transport the drugs. Obviously, if there wasn’t any money with which to pay for sicarios to kill rivals or officials, the violence would significantly decrease. The money to corrupt government officials would also not be there and the corruption would also diminish.
In other words, the laundered money is the goal that all involved in the drug business strive for.
Yet, it is seldom discussed and both governments spend much less resources in ensuring that the illicit money is unable to be spent.
Recently released records by the Mexican government show that Kate del Castillo had money in mind as the central nexus to her dealings with the drug trafficker. Castillo, and her supporters, have argued that meeting with Chapo Guzmán is not criminal and neither was not informing government officials about her contacts with the drug lord. That legal issue has to be vetted through two different sets of laws, Mexico and the United States and processed through their individual judiciaries. Therefore, at this point her argument cannot be refuted.
However, there is no doubt that Chapo Guzmán was a wanted criminal in both the United States and Mexico while Kate del Castillo was in contact with him. Castillo cannot argue that she was not dealing with a criminal.
Kate del Castillo was born in Mexico and became a US citizen sometime in the middle of 2015. Although the United States recognizes dual citizenship, it does not encourage it. Becoming a US citizen does not automatically take away Castillo’s Mexican citizenship. Therefore, we can assume that Kate del Castillo is both a US and Mexican citizen. Castillo reportedly lives in Los Angeles. As such, Castillo is subject to the legal jurisdictions of both countries.
Neither the US nor the Mexican governments have officially announced whether she is under criminal investigation. However, the Mexican government asked to interview Castillo at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles, earlier this year. Kate del Castillo did not comply with the request to make a declaration about her meetings with the drug dealer before Mexican officials.
Except for a Tweet about the Chapo controversy on January 13, 2016, Castillo has been mostly silent. She has, nonetheless, issued statements that the Mexican government is out to “destroy” her.
The fact is that Kate del Castillo met with Chapo Guzmán, a convicted criminal, on the run from both the Mexican and US governments.
On January 9, 2016, Rolling Stone Magazine published the now infamous article about Chapo Guzmán that was penned by Sean Penn. As a result of the article, the Mexican government released text messages, among other details, that show that Kate del Castillo was peddling an investment in her Tequila to the drug lord.
On August 18, 2015, Castillo announced in her official Youtube channel that she was launching a tequila line. Subsequent media interviews by Castillo clearly show that the Tequila line was “her passion” and peddled the brand as her own.
Tequila Honor, LLC., based in Miami, is the distributor for the tequila in the United States. Like champagne, which can only be called champagne if it is distilled in a certain region of France, tequila, likewise must be distilled in the state of Jalisco for it to be called tequila. A few days ago, Tequila Honor, LLC. posted an undated letter stating that the company is “guided by the values of integrity, independence, and of course, honor.” The statement adds that “Kate del Castillo was invited to take part” in the tequila project. The letter clarifies that the tequila company “has exclusively been funded by its founders, a group of brand development experts.”
This last sentence is key to the legal exposure the company may face with the revelations that Kate del Castillo was interested in having Chapo Guzmán invest in her company. Taking illicit money is a crime in both countries. Using drug money as an investment is the most often used vehicle for laundering drug money.
The posted letter was signed by Rene Valdez, as CEO of the company.
Although I submitted an email to Valdez asking for clarification about whether Kate del Castillo has any ownership interest in the company, I did not receive a response in time for this article. However, publicly, Castillo has been posturing that the tequila brand is her vision. To my knowledge she has never denied having an ownership interest in the company. As a matter of fact, her public announcements about the tequila brand insinuate that she owns a substantial interest in the tequila brand.
Obviously, through the posted letter, the tequila company is attempting to clarify that it was not funded by drug monies.
Unfortunately, Kate del Castillo’s text messages, as released by the Mexican government, show that she had a keen interest in using Chapo’s drug money as an investment for her fledging tequila company. Drug dealers see these types of “investments” as an excellent opportunity to launder drug proceeds.
For the drug kingpin it is not about the investment making money, but rather taking each dollar invested in the company and returning a portion of the dollar as “clean” money to the drug dealer. Laundering money costs the dealer a percentage of each dollar laundered. Whether the tequila investment is profitable or not is immaterial to Chapo Guzmán because the money he leverages would be free from the drug contraband and therefore his to spend as he sees fit.
For Kate del Castillo, it may have been about taking her tequila company to the next level but for Chapo Guzmán it was an opportunity to launder his drug money. That he had the added bonus of possibly adding Kate del Castillo as another notch to his bed post was just gravy for him.
Regardless, the fact is that Kate del Castillo met with a wanted criminal and was on the verge of facilitating money laundering, which is criminal on both sides of the border. For that alone, she needs to be prosecuted.