Felipe Calderón, Former Mexican President, Accused of Supporting Sinaloa Cartel


A former Mexican official convicted of drug trafficking testified in a New York courtroom on Tuesday that he had been instructed that Felipe Calderón, the onetime president of Mexico, had instructed authorities officers to assist the Sinaloa drug cartel because it battled its rivals.

The accusation was made by Edgar Veytia, the previous legal professional common from the state of Nayarit, who was himself sentenced in a Brooklyn federal courtroom in 2019 to twenty years in jail for drug trafficking. Mr. Calderón was fast to denounce the allegation as ludicrous.

“I categorically deny the absurd statements reported by the press made immediately by the witness Veytia,” Mr. Calderón tweeted on Tuesday. “What you say about me is an absolute lie. I by no means negotiated or made a pact with criminals.”

Mr. Veytia’s claims got here at the federal corruption trial of Genaro García Luna, Mexico’s former prime safety official, who’s dealing with fees in the identical Brooklyn courthouse of taking tens of millions of {dollars} in bribes from the cartel to assist traffickers transfer big shipments of narcotics into the US. From 2006 to 2012, Mr. García Luna served in Mr. Calderón’s cupboard as the general public safety secretary, a robust publish by which he successfully ran the Mexican authorities’s struggle towards drug cartels.

Whereas dramatic and explosive, Mr. Veytia’s cost underscored some frailties within the prosecution’s case, which has been constructed to date nearly solely on testimony from former drug traffickers and authorities officers — many serving sentences in their very own corruption circumstances — with little different proof to assist it. His testimony about Mr. Calderón was a secondhand account about occasions he didn’t witness himself.

From the stand, Mr. Veytia instructed the jury that in 2011, his boss, the governor of the state of Nayarit, returned from a safety convention in Mexico Metropolis with gorgeous information: that Mr. Calderón and Mr. García Luna had instructed him to assist Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Sinaloa cartel chief greatest often called El Chapo, in a struggle towards his rival, Arturo Beltrán Leyva.

“He had simply gotten again from an essential assembly with Calderón and García Luna,” Mr. Veytia mentioned of the governor. Mr. Veytia added that the governor reported that Mr. Calderón and Mr. García Luna had instructed him “to guard Chapo’s individuals, not Beltran Leyva’s.”

The civil struggle between Mr. Guzmán and Mr. Beltrán Leyva, which started round 2008, wracked Mexico with a spasm of violence, a lot of it dedicated towards federal law enforcement officials and police officers who had been loyal to both aspect. All through the trial, prosecutors have used the internecine battle as a technique to present that of their fixed seek for a bonus, Mr. Guzmán and Mr. Beltrán Leyva struggled to regulate Mr. García Luna and the corps of federal officers who served underneath him.

Mexican information media retailers have been eagerly ready since the trial began last month for the prosecution to implicate Mr. Calderón in corruption along with his nation’s drug cartels. However Mr. Veytia’s account on Tuesday was the primary time in additional than three weeks that an accusation towards Mr. Calderón emerged throughout testimony.

Beneath cross-examination, Mr. Veytia acknowledged that he had met on a number of events with U.S. investigators earlier than Mr. García Luna was arrested, however solely supplied details about him after Mr. García Luna was in American custody.

Mr. Veytia additionally testified that, hoping for a discount in his sentence, he had supplied U.S. authorities with details about different Mexican officers, together with “the nationwide secretary of protection” — an obvious reference to Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who was arrested in Los Angeles in late 2020 on bribery and drug trafficking fees. After stress from Mexico, prosecutors from the identical Brooklyn workplace that’s attempting Mr. García Luna dismissed the case, citing diplomatic issues, and returned Mr. Cienfuegos to his homeland.

The federal government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico has been fast to play up information from the trial to broadly paint Mr. Calderón’s time period as rife with corruption. Talking of Mr. García Luna’s trial on Tuesday morning, Mr. López Obrador lauded his authorities’s battle towards corruption whereas blasting the nation’s former presidents for “looting” the nation.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Mexican authorities’s official Twitter account revealed a virtually five-minute video clip layered with dramatic music, narration and imagery to publicize the highlights of the trial to date, however didn’t point out the allegations from Tuesday about Mr. Calderón. The slickly produced clip featured images of Mr. García Luna with Mexican and American officers intertwined with packages of seized medicine.

As the beginning of the trial loomed late final 12 months, Mr. López Obrador started talking commonly concerning the fees towards Mr. García Luna whereas propping up his authorities as a counter to the graft that has plagued earlier administrations.

“In our authorities there are not any officers like García Luna, human rights violations will not be permitted, the authorities will not be accomplices,” the president mentioned final November. There exists “no settlement with any organized crime group,” he mentioned.

Nate Schweber contributed reporting.

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