U.S. sanctions Mexican cartel suspects linked to high-profile attacks

MEXICO CITY, April 7 (Reuters) - The United States has sanctioned two suspected members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) accused of helping organize an attack last year on Mexico City’s police chief and the murder of a former governor of the Jalisco state.

Carlos Andres Rivera Varela, a dual Mexico-Colombia citizen, and Mexican national Francisco Javier Gudino Haro are alleged to be members of a CJNG faction operating out the western beach resort of Puerto Vallarta.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury alleged that the duo “helped orchestrate assassinations using high-powered weaponry on behalf of CJNG”, a gang notorious as one of Mexico’s most violent.

In June, suspected CJNG gunmen shot Mexico City’s chief of police Omar Garcia Harfuch and killed two of his bodyguards in a dramatic assassination attempt that sent shockwaves across Mexico. The attack, in an upscale neighborhood housing wealthy businessmen and embassies, was captured on security cameras.

In December, suspected CJNG gunmen killed former Jalisco governor Aristoteles Sandoval in Puerto Vallarta in one of the most high-profile political assassinations since Mexico embarked on a military-led crackdown on gangs in 2006.

Rivera Varela and Gudino Haro were sanctioned because they provide vital support to the cartel, the Treasury said.

“This group conducts violent attacks against rivals and government officials that ultimately benefit CJNG’s territorial control and drug trafficking activities,’ the Treasury added.

Gudino Haro’s Puerto Vallarta-registered company Agricola Costa Alegre S.P.R. de R.L. was also sanctioned.

“Treasury will continue working with its partner U.S. government agencies to disrupt and dismantle this cartel,” said Andrea M. Gacki, Director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

The Treasury also sanctioned Mexican travel agent Alejandro Chacon Miranda, who owns Dale Tours, a Guadalajara-area travel agency, for providing support to the cartel.

Rivera Varela, Gudino Haro and Chacon Miranda could not be reached for comment. (Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by David Gregorio)