US says Mexican music promoter laundered money for cartel

MEXICO CITY — The U.S. Treasury Department accused a prominent Mexican concert promoter Friday of laundering money for the Jalisco drug cartel.

The department named promoter Jesus Perez Alvear, better known as Chucho Perez, to the foreign narcotics kingpins list, a designation that freezes his U.S. assets and bars Americans from doing business with him.

Perez Alvear has promoted large regional concerts throughout Mexico and represented major names in the country's banda and norteno music scene.

His concert company did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment, and calls went unanswered at the office where his company worked organizing musical acts.

The designation of Perez Alvear provides a glimpse into the world of Mexican regional concerts, long-viewed as ripe for money launderers because ticket sales are hard to verify.

"Chucho Perez uses violence to obtain concessions to operate these concerts under the name of his music promotion business," the department said in a statement, adding he laundered drug cartel proceeds "by comingling them with legitimate revenues generated from the sale of tickets, refreshments, parking, and other items."

It said Perez Alvear "often promotes musical acts known for singing narcocorridos, or ballads that glorify drug traffickers and their illicit activities. Some of these acts have ties to drug trafficking organizations."

He has promoted at least one singer who is also on the kingpin list and allegedly has personal ties to Los Cuinis, which is a wing of the Jalisco cartel.

In August, the Treasury Department placed norteno singer Julio Cesar Alvarez, better known as "Julion" Alvarez, on the list, claiming he acted as a front man and held assets for a cartel.

On Friday, the department also named Venezuelan-Italian fashion photographer Miguel Jose Leone Martinez to the list.

It said that Leone Martinez, better known as Miguel Leone, poses as a fashion photographer to recruit models and beauty pageant contestants from South America and Europe as prostitutes for bosses of the Cuinis gang.

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