Officials in a Texas border city have been working to develop ties with key political and financial figures in Mexico who appear to be promoting growth. These same figures are the targets of ongoing money laundering investigations.
This week, the City of Mission, hosted a delegation of representatives from the Mexican port city of Mazatlan, Sinaloa. During their visit, Mission Mayor Armando O’cana and Mazatlan Mayor Luis Guillermo Benito Torres signed a “Sister City” agreement claiming to promote commercial and cultural ties.
Since then, city officials voted to give 25 ballistic vests from the Mission Police Department to their new sister city through a process called “surplus and convey.” Mazatlan is approximately 140 miles away from Culiacan, the main base of operations of the Sinaloa Cartel. Mazatlan is the same city where in 2014, Mexican authorities arrested Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is currently serving a life term in a U.S. prison.
The state of Sinaloa is currently listed as a “Do Not Travel” Destination by the U.S. Department of State over “crime and kidnapping.” In their travel advisory, the State Department claims that criminal organizations are based out of Sinaloa and that U.S. citizens have been victims of crime and kidnapping. A do-not-travel designation is the same used for war-torn countries where the safety of a traveler is not guaranteed.
One of the key members of the delegation from Mazatlan, whose photograph was posted on the Mission Facebook page but has since been removed for unknown reasons, is Juan Jose Arellano Hernandez, the head of Grupo Arhes, a Mexican commercial conglomerate. Arellano Hernandez is believed to have been responsible for transporting the delegation from Mexico to Mission. Breitbart Texas was not able to independently verify that claim.
Arellano Hernandez and Grupo Arhe are currently under investigation by Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) in connection with the use of shell companies to launder money. According to an investigation by Rio Doce, which was then republished by Telemundo, Arellano Hernandez and his brother Erick (since 2005) managed to build a conglomerate of companies out of nothing. The list of companies now includes hotels, gas stations, construction companies, schools, and Mexican professional sports teams.
In previous years, the two brothers had some of their assets frozen by Mexican authorities. In 2018, under the Enrique Pena Nieto presidency, those assets were unfrozen and returned to them. Since then, Mexico’s UIF has once again set its sights on the two brothers and Grupo Arhe in an ongoing investigation. Grupo Arhes denied the expose by Rio Doce claiming that the story is false. Their denial can be seen here.
In September, the City of Mission invited the new governor of Nuevo Leon, Samuel Garcia Sepulveda, for multiple events including a vaccination drive for Mexican nationals hosted in conjunction with the city of McAllen. As Breitbart Texas reported exclusively, Garcia Sepulveda is under a money-laundering investigation in Mexico for the alleged use of shell companies to funnel illicit funds into his gubernatorial campaign. Breitbart Texas also revealed that one of those shell companies listed a drug distributor with Los Zetas as the business owner. The father of the Mexican politician has also been singled out by authorities for the alleged embezzlement of properties and funds from a former leader of the Gulf Cartel who is also the governor’s relative.
Ildefonso Ortiz is an award-winning journalist with Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Brandon Darby and senior Breitbart management. You can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. He can be contacted at Iortiz@breitbart.com.
Brandon Darby is the managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded Breitbart Texas’ Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and senior Breitbart management. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.