Del Records CEO charged with arranging concerts with promoter tied to drug traffickers
The chief executive of Del Records, a Bell Gardens-based label that produces Latin music, was charged Tuesday with violating a federal law that prohibits U.S. residents and companies from doing business with known drug traffickers and their associates.
FBI agents Tuesday morning arrested Angel Del Villar, 41, a resident of Huntington Beach. He appeared in federal court in downtown Los Angeles and was released on $100,000 bond without entering a plea, authorities said.
His attorney didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
A spokesman for Del Records described its founder as “a self-made and widely respected music executive who has built a successful entertainment company that produces some of the most beloved regional Mexican music in the industry.”
The allegation that Del Villar or his chief financial officer, who was also charged in the case, “would knowingly be involved in anything related to illegal narcotics is absurd,” the spokesman said.
Del Villar, who founded Del Records in 2008, is charged with violating the Kingpin Act. The law prohibits anyone in the United States from engaging in deals or transactions with people or businesses sanctioned by the Treasury Department.
Jesus “Chucho” Perez Alvear, a music promoter who lived in Cuernavaca, Mexico, was sanctioned in 2018. Treasury officials said at the time that Perez had laundered drug money for the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and a related trafficking group, Los Cuinis.
Perez was accused of commingling the traffickers’ profits with legitimate revenue from ticket and refreshment sales. He also promoted singers of narcocorridos, ballads which “glorify” traffickers and their crimes, Treasury officials said.
One of Del Records’ artists had been scheduled to perform at a concert organized by Perez in the state of Aguascalientes, Mexico, when the promoter was sanctioned, FBI Special Agent Lauren Radke wrote in an affidavit filed in court.
Del Villar’s employees drafted a news release at the time, stating the company had “no choice” but to “obey U.S. law and not allow the bookings of any of my shows to individuals the Dept. of Treasury has deemed sanctioned.”
The news release was never distributed, but agents used a search warrant to obtain the draft a year later, Radke wrote.
Radke and other agents met with the artist who was scheduled to perform at Perez’s concert at an airport in Phoenix. Radke said she handed the musician a letter from the Treasury Department and told him he was prohibited from doing business with Perez.
Later that day, Del Records’ chief financial officer, Luca Scalisi, left a voice message with an employee of the record label. Scalisi said Del Villar wanted the chief financial officer to go to Mexico to collect a debt that Perez owed to a Mexican company affiliated with Del Villar, Radke wrote.
Scalisi said he was concerned about creating a “paper trail” leading to Perez because the concert promoter was “under surveillance, he’s under Homeland Security watch,” according to Radke.
Scalisi, a 56-year-old resident of West Hollywood, has also been charged with violating the Kingpin Act. He was arrested Tuesday and released on $35,000 bond without entering a plea, authorities said.
The Del Records musician, who isn’t named in the affidavit, ultimately did perform at the concert Perez staged in Aguascalientes, Radke wrote.
Perez has also been charged with violating the Kingpin Act. He has yet to be arrested and is believed to be in Mexico, authorities said.
Agents reviewed bank records that show people affiliated with Perez paid 3.5 million pesos — roughly $170,000 — to a Mexican bank account that Del Villar is suspected of using to transfer money to his company, Radke wrote. In exchange, Del Records artists performed at concerts organized by Perez’s associates in Mexicali, Chiapas, San Jose Iturbide and Salamanca, the agent wrote.
Del Records has been embroiled in a bitter feud with its earliest and biggest success, Gerardo Ortiz, a Pasadena-born crooner who was once arrested in Mexico on a charge of “criminal exaltation” for appearing in a music video that shows the mistress of a drug lord being bound, gagged and stuffed in the trunk of a car, which Ortiz then sets on fire.
Ortiz and Del Villar sued each other in 2019, trading accusations of fraud and other misconduct. When the FBI raided the label’s Bell Gardens offices in 2020, a spokesman claimed the agents were only seeking records concerning Ortiz.
“To the best of our knowledge, Del Records is not a subject, but merely a source of information for the FBI’s investigation into Mr. Ortiz,” the spokesman said at the time.
The singer’s representatives responded that agents had searched not just the label’s offices but its founder’s home as well. “To our knowledge, the search by the FBI at Del Records’ office and Mr. Del Villar’s home does not involve Mr. Ortiz,” they said.
Ortiz could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
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