An L.A.-based private equity firm is being called into court for the allegedly fraudulent sale of a property in Mexico that the buyer says has ties to a drug cartel run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
OpenGate Capital first purchased the manufacturing facility in Reynosa, Mexico, as part of a 2012 deal to acquire a laboratory furniture manufacturing business from Wisconsin-based Thermo Fisher that later became known as Hamilton Scientific. Hamilton Scientific is now known as Hamilton Laboratory Solutions.
OpenGate previously filed a federal civil action against Thermo Fisher on May 2013 accusing the company of failing to disclose the cartel’s ties to the property. The lawsuit was dismissed in April 2016.
OpenGate uncovered that the facility was being used by senior local leaders of the Mexican Gulf Cartel, according to a federal complaint filed on June 12 in California’s Central District Court by Mexican real estate investment firm Finsa Portafolios, or Finsa, which acquired the facility from OpenGate in 2014 for $15 million.
Finsa claims that armed cartel soldiers used the facility at all hours of the day and that drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán maintained a personal residence behind the facility.
Finsa’s lead attorney, Jim Spertus of West L.A.’s Spertus, Landes, & Umhofer, said in an email that OpenGate’s previous lawsuit should help his client’s case.
“Proving the allegations should be easy,” Spertus said. “OpenGate made factual admissions that will prove many of the current claims by FINSA.”
OpenGate did not respond to a request for comment.
Reporter Natalie Hoberman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @hobermannatalie.