On Tuesday, the FBI arrested two música Mexicana record label executives for doing business with a concert promoter with alleged ties to Mexican drug cartels in 2018.
Angel Del Villar, CEO of Del Records, and Luis Scalisi, CFO of subsidiary Del Entertainment, were arrested and later released on bail for allegedly conspiring to violate the Kingpin Act, which prohibits Americans from conducting business with foreign narcotics traffickers.
The FBI complaint alleges that the two men exchanged money and services with a man named Jesus Perez Alvear — listed as a narcotics trafficker under the Kingpin Act, and who works at company Gallistica Diamante — for the performance of one of Del Records’ artists in Aguascalientes, Mexico in April 2018.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, a rep for Del Villar denied the criminal charges made by the Department of Justice, and defended the label executives.
“The suggestion that they would knowingly be involved in anything related to illegal narcotics is absurd,” the statement read. “We believe the allegations stem from complaints of a disgruntled former business partner, and Mr. Del Villar and Mr. Scalisi look forward to clearing their names.”
Though left unnamed and referred to in the criminal complaint as “Individual A,” Del Records’ former signee Gerardo Ortiz — known for his narcocorridos, or songs about the drug trade and cartels in Mexico — performed at Palestra Aguascalientes the night listed in the court documents. The complaint also alleges that 10 days prior to the performance, the FBI alerted Ortiz about Perez’s ties to drug trafficking and his designation under the Kingpin Act. He flew into the Mexican state on a private jet paid for by Del Villar and performed that night anyway.
Reps for Gerardo Ortiz did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
The arrests of Del Villar and Scalisi come two years after the FBI conducted a raid at the offices of Del Records — the label behind acts such as Eslabón Armado, Los Del Limit, Lenin Ramirez, and Panchito Arredondo — in 2020 after the label sued Ortiz for wanting to be paid in cash for his performances in an alleged attempt to evade taxes. (The year prior, Ortiz had sued Del Records for fraud and breach of contract.)
At the time, Del Records had alerted the FBI that Ortiz had performed in Mexico for an alleged trafficker, per Variety. The label said at the time that it had not been “a subject but merely a source of information for the FBI’s investigation into Mr. Ortiz.”
The new criminal complaint also states that Ortiz performed at four different concerts organized by Perez in Baja California, Guanajuato, and Chiapas in 2018 and 2019.
Del Villar and Scalisi are set to be arraigned on July 20, after being released Tuesday on $100,000 and $35,000 bond, respectively. If convicted of violating the Kingpin Act, they would face a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison each. Perez’s whereabouts are unknown. If convicted, he could face a maximum of 10 years in federal prison.
This story was updated on June 15 at 12:30 a.m. to include a statement from Del Records.