Though Jeff Sessions days as the nation’s top justice official may be numbered, the embattled attorney general was able to start off his week with some encouraging news. On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced 15 indictments against a total of 45 members of Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), a prominent Mexican drug cartel.
Sessions made the announcement at a press conference on Tuesday. “Every day, these cartels are taking advantage of our porous Southern border to move and push their illegal drugs for large profits — expanding suffering and death along the way,” said Sessions, adding that the CJNG is responsible for smuggling five tons of cocaine and five tons of methamphetamine into the U.S. every month.
The charges come a day after Sessions announced the creation of a new task force aimed at taking down transnational organized crime. The attorney general named five crime syndicates on which the task force will focus: MS-13, the CJNG, the Sinaloa cartel, the Gulf cartel and Lebanese Hezbollah. “The same day I was sworn in as attorney general, President Trump ordered me to disrupt and dismantle these groups,” Sessions said Monday.
The CJNG is a relatively new cartel that is believed to have splintered off from the Sinaloa cartel, which has been operating for close to 30 years. Based in Jalisco, a coastal state that lies due west of Mexico City, the CJNG is known for trading in cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced heroin, as well as for shooting down a Mexican military helicopter in 2015. In August, Mexican authorities announced that they had apprehended several of the CJNG members responsible for the attack.
Among the indicted is CJNG’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, a former police officer also known as “El Mencho.” Charging the drug lord is one thing; catching him another, and the United States is currently offering a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. El Mencho’s son, Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, was also named in the indictment, although he was arrested in 2015 and is currently serving time in Mexico. Together, they built the CJNG into one of the most ruthless cartels in Mexico, occupying 75 percent of the country’s states while also expanding into Europe and Asia. “[El Mencho’s] gang will basically take over an entire city,” said Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent Daniel Comeaux. “He’ll take kids and make them work for him by force. He will tell the mothers and fathers if they don’t work, they die.”
Though one might think of the indictments as precisely the kind of headway President Trump would be quick to trumpet, he seems to have been too busy helping cover up Saudi Arabia’s alleged murder of journalist Jamil Khashoggi and calling Stormy Daniels “Horseface” on Twitter. He also probably doesn’t see it to be his best interest to cast a positive light on Sessions, whom he seems to be planning to fire after the midterm elections. On Tuesday, Trump criticized his attorney general for not being more vigilant in exposing an imagined Deep State conspiracy at the heart of the Russia investigation. When asked later by the Associated Press whether he would fire Sessions, Trump was typically noncommittal. “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “But if you ask me: Am I thrilled? No, I am not thrilled.”