2022 has been a rollercoaster of a year for DEL Records. Only a month ago, the record label released their history-making artist Eslabon Armado’s Nostalgia – one of this year’s most successful Latine albums – but is now making headlines for something completely different. The label’s CEO, Angel Del Villar, was arrested by FBI agents on Tuesday (June 14) for violating the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. DEL Entertainment’s CFO Luca Scalisi was also arrested for the same charge.
According to Billboard’s report, both DEL executives were charged with “conspiring to violate the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act,” as stated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. This was due to their alleged business with a Guadalajara-based concert promoter that is connected to Mexican drug cartels.
The U.S. Attorney stated that the Mexican music promoter in question is Gallistica Diamente’s, also known as Ticket Premier, Jesus Perez Alvear, who previously promoted DEL Entertainment in Mexico until 2019. According to the same report, Perez and Gallistica Diamente are actively listed as “Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers” under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which specifically prohibits people from the U.S. from working with them.
The complaint report says that FBI agents told a “well-known musician” that Perez was under the Kingpin Act and how that “prohibited him from conducting business with Perez and performing concerts that Perez promoted” on April 19, 2018. Regardless of the complaint, the artist performed at a concert organized by Perez on April 28, 2018. In fact, the artist went along to perform four other shows in Mexico under Perez’s promotion. The report points out that the artist “acted at the direction or with the knowledge of Del Villar, Scalisi, and Perez.” The concert’s timeline implies that the “well-known musician” is DEL Records’ former artist Gerardo Ortiz.
“The suggestion that they would knowingly be involved in anything related to illegal narcotics is absurd,” Del Villar’s rep told Rolling Stone. “We believe the allegations stem from complaints of a disgruntled former business partner, and Mr. Del Villar and Mr. Scalisi look forward to clearing their names.”
This isn’t the first time DEL Records has been involved in alleged criminal activity. In 2020, the label was the center of an FBI raid investigation related to Ortiz. Before that, it was a back-and-forth lawsuit whirlwind between DEL Records and Ortiz. According to Rolling Stone, the 2020 raiding happened after the label “sued Ortiz for wanting to be paid in cash for his performances in an alleged attempt to evade taxes.” The year before that, Ortiz sued the label “for fraud and breach of contract.” At the time of these allegations, Variety reported that DEL Records tipped off the FBI about Ortiz performing for an alleged trafficker, “which drew the attention of the U.S. government.” Now, the attention appears to be on DEL Records.
After being arrested, Del Villlar and Scalisi were both released on bail. Del Villar was released on a $100,000 bond, and Scalisi was released on a $35,000 bond. They are scheduled for an arraignment on July 20, where they could face up to 30 years in federal prison.