Venezuela

U.S. sanctions Venezuelan-Italian photographer for running cartel prostitution ring

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he supports Congressional efforts to make corporate ownership more transparent to U.S. law enforcement.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he supports Congressional efforts to make corporate ownership more transparent to U.S. law enforcement. AP

The U.S. government on Friday sanctioned a Venezuelan-Italian photographer, saying he used his fashion and modeling business to run a high-end prostitution ring for a Mexican drug cartel.

In a statement, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control, or OFAC, named Jose Leone Martinez under the so-called Drug Kingpin Act, saying he helped lead an international prostitution ring for Mexico’s Los Cuinis drug trafficking organization.

Treasury said that Leone, 37, who is Mexican resident, lured models and beauty pageant contestants from South America and Europe to serve as prostitutes for senior members of the cartel.

Also named by Treasury in the sanction was Mexican music promoter Jesus Perez Alvear, who was accused of using his concert and event business to launder money for the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación and for Los Cuinis.

Treasury said that Perez “uses violence to obtain concessions to operate these concerts under the name of his music promotion business, Gallistica Diamante (a.k.a. Ticket Premier).” It also accused him of laundering drug profits from the gangs by “comingling" their narco cash "with legitimate revenues generated from the sale of tickets, refreshments, parking, and other items.”

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The kingpin designation effectively blocks Leone's and Perez’s assets in the United States and prohibits U.S. citizens from doing business with them.

“Treasury is targeting individuals who work on behalf of violent Mexican drug kingpins, and support their opulent lifestyles by trafficking deadly drugs into the United States,” Sigal Mandelker, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

Since June 2000, more than 2,000 individuals and entities have been named under the Kingpin Act for their roles in international narcotics trafficking.

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