Justice Department charges 12 people with racketing in Mexico

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Justice Department charges 12 people with racketing in Mexico

The Justice Department invoked a 132-year-old law on Tuesday to charge 12 people with a violent and sometimes deadly scheme to monopolize American cars and other goods in Central America by fixing prices and retaliating against those who refused to be extorted.

The Justice Department charged the group under the Sherman Act of 1890, an antitrust regulation that used to break up American monopolies Standard Oil in the 1920 s and AT&T in the 1970s.

One of the men charged, Carlos Favian Martinez, who went by Cuate, is the former son-in-chief of the powerful and violent Mexican drug-trafficking organization known as Gulf Cartel, the indictment said.

The indictment said that those who challenged the group were met with threats, kidnappings and even death.

Fees extorted as part of the scheme were put into a collection known as the Pool that was later divided up between the defendants, according to the indictment filed in the Southern District of Texas.

The defendants' addresses range from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to just across the border in Matamoros, Mexico. The group met at the Holiday Inn in Harlingen, Texas in March 2019 to divide $44,000 in cash.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, said that this criminal organization committed heinous acts of violence against those who would not participate in its illegal activities.

The charge documents said in February 2019 that a woman and her boyfriend were kidnapped in Mexico after the kidnappers told her that her father was working for an agency that threatened the business of the Pool. Another rival agency was hit with gunfire near the U.S. border, resulting in two deaths.