[Marxism] El Chapo Trial Shows That Mexico’s Corruption Is Even Worse Than You Think

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Dec 29 09:16:14 MST 2018

(Me and my wife just got a chuckle out of this. It turns out that 
Guillermo González Calderoni who tracked down the murderers of DEA agent 
Kiki Camarena was on the take, just like every other Mexican government 
official apparently. Calderoni was a character in the 3rd season of 
"Narcos", the really good Netflix series that is focused on Camarena's 
demise. The main cartel figure in the series is Miguel Ángel Félix 
Gallardo, who ran the Guadalajara cartel and was Chapo Guzman's boss. 
The only question I have in light of the article is whether AMLO can put 
an end to this. My guess is no.)

NY Times, Dec. 29, 2018
El Chapo Trial Shows That Mexico’s Corruption Is Even Worse Than You Think
By Alan Feuer

It is no secret that Mexico’s drug cartels have, for decades, corrupted 
the authorities with dirty money. But as bad as the graft has been, the 
New York trial of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the drug lord known as El Chapo, 
has suggested that the swamp of bribery runs even deeper than thought.

In two months of testimony, nearly every level of the Mexican government 
has been depicted as being on the take: Prison guards, airport 
officials, police officers, prosecutors, tax assessors and military 
personnel are all said to have been compromised.

One former army general, Gilberto Toledano, was recently accused of 
routinely getting payoffs of $100,000 to permit the flow of drugs 
through his district.

Even the architect of the government’s war on Mr. Guzmán and his allies 
— Genaro García Luna, the former public security director — was 
suspected to have taken briefcases stuffed with cartel cash.

Federal prosecutors have charged Mr. Guzmán, a longtime leader of the 
Sinaloa drug cartel, with taking part in a continuing criminal 
enterprise by shipping more than 200 tons of heroin, cocaine and 
marijuana across the United States border from the 1980s until his 
arrest in Mexico two years ago.

To prove its case, the government plans to call as witnesses at least 16 
of the kingpin’s underlings and allies, some of whom served as cartel 
bag men.

While tales of violence have been common at the trial (which is on 
hiatus for the holidays), the accounts of graft have been even more 

The jurors have been told that Mr. Guzmán was practiced in the business 
of corruption from the earliest days of his career. In the late 1980s, 
witnesses have said, he started funneling millions of dollars to the 
first official on his payroll: Guillermo González Calderoni, the chief 
of Mexico City’s federal police.

Mr. Calderoni, who was partly raised in Texas, eventually became a 
legendary officer in Mexico, perhaps best known for having helped the 
American authorities crack the case of Enrique Camarena Salazar, an 
agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration who was captured, tortured 
and killed by traffickers in 1985. But within two years, according to 
evidence at Mr. Guzmán’s trial, the lawman was already accepting cartel 

One witness, Miguel Angel Martínez, told the jurors that Mr. Calderoni 
provided Mr. Guzmán with secret information on an almost daily basis, 
including an invaluable tip in the early 1990s that the United States 
government had built a radar installation on the Yucatán Peninsula to 
track his drug flights from Colombia.

Mr. Martínez also testified that Mr. Calderoni once informed Mr. Guzmán 
that the Mexican authorities had discovered a smuggling tunnel he had 
dug beneath the Arizona border. Before the police could raid the tunnel, 
Mr. Guzmán was able to make off with a huge supply of cocaine.

But as useful as he was to the kingpin’s operation, Mr. Calderoni met a 
violent end. In 2003, a gunman approached his silver Mercedes, as it sat 
parked on a street in McAllen, Tex., and shot him in the head. The 
authorities have never identified his killer.

Mexico is not the only country to emerge from the trial with its 
reputation stained. Last month, Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía, one of Mr. 
Guzmán’s Colombian suppliers, appeared in Federal District Court in 
Brooklyn and admitted to having paid off everyone from journalists to 
tax officials in his country.

A former chief of the North Valley drug cartel, Mr. Ramírez calmly told 
the jurors that an entire wing of his organization was devoted to doling 
out payments. “It’s impossible to be the leader of a drug cartel in 
Colombia without having corruption,” he explained. “They go hand in hand.”

The list of those who took his money was impressive: prison guards, 
border agents, lawyers and several officers with Colombia’s national police.

Mr. Ramírez boasted from the stand that in 1997, he spent more than $10 
million bribing what amounted to the entire Colombian Congress to change 
the country’s extradition laws in his favor. He also claimed to have 
paid as much as $500,000 to Ernesto Samper, the former president of 
Colombia, when he was running for office.

Even people in the private sector, witnesses have said, took cash from 
the cartels.

A few weeks ago, the jurors learned that Mr. Guzmán had once reached a 
deal with a Colombian catering firm to sneak cocaine past security 
officials at the Bogotá airport onto planes owned by a Venezuelan 
airline, Aeropostal. When the planes arrived in Mexico City, the jurors 
were informed, a crew of corrupt employees would move the drugs onto 
trucks for the cartel.

Jorge Cifuentes Villa, a Colombian trafficker who also shipped cocaine 
to Mr. Guzmán, recently testified that, during his career, he laundered 
up to $15 million in drug-trade profits through a crooked debit card 

Mr. Cifuentes also said he once paid off a professional gemologist to 
fraudulently certify that there were emeralds in a mine he had invested 
in and was using as a drug front.

Some of the most egregious evidence of corruption has not been heard by 
the jury, and likely never will be.

In November, for example, one of Mr. Guzmán’s former operations chiefs, 
Jesus Zambada García, was poised to reveal that two Mexican presidents — 
neither of whom was named — had taken massive bribes from the cartel. 
But the testimony was shut down before it could be heard by Judge Brian 
M. Cogan, who ruled that it would needlessly embarrass certain 
“individuals and entities.”

But further tales of payoffs may be coming.

In his opening statement, Jeffrey Lichtman, one of Mr. Guzmán’s lawyers, 
promised jurors that a witness who has not yet appeared at the trial, 
Cesar Gastelum Serrano, could — if asked — talk about bribing 
presidential candidates in Guatemala and buying off a president of Honduras.

Then there was another potential witness, Dámaso López Núñez, one of Mr. 
Guzmán’s top lieutenants, who allegedly had Mexican Marines, 
intelligence officers and local politicians on his payroll.

“There is no part of the Mexican government or law enforcement 
apparatus,” Mr. Lichtman said, “that Dámaso did not control.”

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