Monterrey, Mexico – The controversial mayor of San Pedro Garza Garcia, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, has admitted that he bought information from a drug trafficker in an effort to rid the wealthy municipality of kidnappers and drug gangs.
“There is a network of Zetas (the former armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel) in the Monterrey metropolitan area that has been operating for a decade and, if there is a group that wants to help me eliminate them with information, then that information is welcome,” Mayor Mauricio Fernandez said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Fernandez, who shocked Mexico several months ago with the announcement that he would use “rough clean-up groups” to rid his city of drug traffickers, acknowledged that Alberto Mendoza Contreras, head of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel in Nuevo Leon, had been working for him as an informant since January.
Mexican marines captured Mendoza Contreras and his deputy, Hugo Lopez Reyes, who had been operating in San Pedro Garza Garcia, an upscale southwestern suburb of Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, last Friday.
Mendoza Contreras worked for the leaders of other drug cartels, such as Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel and Juan “El Azul” Esparragoza, both members of the Sinaloa cartel, finding people they were looking for, the Navy Secretariat said.
“If someone brings me information that helps me have a more secure San Pedro, I’ll buy it,” Fernandez said, admitting that Mendoza Contreras provided information to his “rough groups” that helped identify kidnappers, gangs involved in extortion rackets targeting businessmen, auto theft rings and drug peddlers.
The mayor said he was willing to accept information from one criminal organization that led to the arrests of members of a rival group.
“If the devil gives me information, I’ll buy it,” Fernandez said.
San Pedro Garza Garcia, considered the wealthiest city in Latin America, is home to huge mansions, luxury hotels and some of Mexico’s largest corporations.
“The city paid the informants for their valuable information. In some cases, we pay and in others we don’t. It depends on whether the information is worth it,” the mayor said.
Fernandez, while a candidate last year for the mayoralty of Mexico’s wealthiest city, filed a lawsuit against the online magazine Reporte Indigo for releasing secret recordings of conversations in which he allegedly mentioned cutting security deals with drug traffickers.
The politician, a member of one of Mexico’s wealthiest families, has a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at nearly $800 million.
Fernandez, who is in his second stint as mayor of the city, filed the lawsuit against Reporte Indigo editor Ramon Alberto Garza, who made public conversations in which the mayoral candidate referred to the Beltran Leyva drug cartel, one of the most powerful criminal organizations in Mexico.
Federal officials have said that San Pedro Garza Garcia, a city in the Monterrey metropolitan area, is controlled by the Beltran Leyva cartel.
Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations, according to experts, are the Sinaloa, Tijuana, Gulf, Juarez and Beltran Leyva cartels, and La Familia Michoacana.
Los Zetas, a group of army special forces veterans and deserters who initially worked as hitmen for the Gulf cartel, are now operating as a cartel, having broken with their former employers, some experts say.