Governor Eugenio Hernandez Flores
On Saturday, July 3, the Mexican newspaper “Reforma” published an article that identifies a bodyguard of current Tamaulipas state governor Eugenio Hernandez Flores as wanted by U.S. and Mexican authorities for his membership in either the Gulf Cartel or Los Zetas.
The bodyguard, Ismael Marino Ortega Galicia, is identified by the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control as a perpetrator of Mexican drug trafficking violence and a key member of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas organizations under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act of March 2010.
According to Reforma, the alleged gunman is visible in a photograph taken in March in which he is seen next to the Governor Hernandez Flores.
Intelligence sources confirmed to the newspaper that Ortega Galicia has close ties to the Governor’s political circle and serves on his security team.
Ives Soberon Tijerina, Director of Public Security for the state of Tamaulipas, denied that Ortega Galicia has any ties to organized crime.
The official explained that Ismael Ortega Galicia was a member of the Army from 1991 to 1999, then enter the Federal Bureau of Investigation (now disbanded) and later entered the Tamaulipas state police to escort the Governor and other public officials.
Public Security Director Soberon Tijerina also revealed that Galicia Ortega has a U.S. laser visa and has traveled to the U.S. several times without being stopped or detained.
In early 2003, Ortega Galicia was designated by the Department of the Treasury of the United States for ties to Los Zetas, and after testifying before the Mexican federal prosecutor in Mexico City, was released for lack of evidence and he returned to his post.
The accusation was repeated in 2007 without causing his arrest as Mexican authorities again found no links to organized crime.
On Sunday, July 4, Ortega Galicia was taken into custody at his home by a detachment of Mexican marines and flown to Mexico City.
Ricardo Najera, a spokesman for the PGR, the federal Attorney General’s office, announced that upon arrival in Mexico City Ortega Galicia was transferred to the custody of SIEDO, Mexico’s Office of the Assistant Attorney General for Specialized Investigation of Organized Crime.
"He is under investigation by SIEDO who will determine his legal status within the terms of law," said Najera.
Governor Hernandez has acknowledged that on three occasions his bodyguard had been on a Treasury Department drug kingpin list and said that each time he was exonerated by the PGR.
"Yes, we know that this person has been detained by the Attorney General," the president said in brief interview.
"This person had already been acquitted previously by the PGR," he added. "In that sense, we are calm, there's nothing to be ashamed of”
However, the Governor did not talk about why the U.S. Treasury Department insists on Ortega Galicia’s inclusion in the list of suspected assassins and drug traffickers.
The state of Tamaulipas, located in the Gulf of Mexico on the border with Texas, is considered one of the primary bases for drug trafficking into the U.S.
Since February 2010 Tamaulipas has become a bloody no man’s land as has the dangerous Gulf Cartel and its former paramilitary wing, Los Zetas, wage open warfare over control of drug trafficking routes into the U.S.
There have been hundreds of victims of the war between both organized crime groups and the population of the state, especially in north Tamaulipas along the corridors from the state of Nuevo Leon to the border with the U.S., has been besieged by the violence.
Corruption in Governor Hernandez Flores' Administration
The Ismael Ortega Galicia affair is only the tip of the iceburg of corruption in Tamaulipas.
Eugenio Hernandez’s administration has been marred by corruption within his cabinet and throughout his government and political circle. Many top people in his government have used their positions to illegally amass wealth through manipulation and sale of influences.
Of particular interest is Hernandez’s top advisor, right hand man and cabinet level Communication Secretary, Mario Ruiz Pachuca, who dominates PRI party politics in Tamaulipas and has shown an uncanny ability to influence investigations by the state prosecutor’s office.
Ruiz Pachuca is currently under investigation by the DEA, FBI and SIEDO for his inexplicable accumulation of wealth during his time in the Hernandez administration.
There is also Jose Guadalupe Herrera Bustamante who has served twice as Tamaulipas Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General during the Hernandez administration and is currently serving as a state government coordinator.
It is inexplicable that a man with family links to the Gulf Cartel would be chosen for posts in the Attorney General’s office. Herrera Bustamante has 2 brothers associated with the Gulf Cartel. One brother, Erick, was murdered in McAllen, Texas. Another brother, Ariel, is reputed to be a hitman for the Gulf Cartel.
Herrera Bustamante was also convicted of lying about his age to obtain a post as a Federal District Judge in 1991-1992 and was linked previously to at least one murder, that of a brother of a federal policeman in the border city of Matamoros in the late 1990’s while also serving in the Tamaulipas Attorney General’s office under a previous administration.
Then there is the Secretary General of the state government, Jose Eugenio Benavides Benavides, previously the long time head of the Tamaulipas Cattleman’s Association.
From 1994 to 2008 Benavides was the highest recipient of Procampo funds in the state of Tamaulipas. Procampo is a federal agricultural subsidy program that provides direct cash payments to farmers and ranchers.
Procampo was initially created to help the poorest in Mexico’s agricultural sector adjust to the changing market under NAFTA but has been widely abused through fraud by corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, rich agro-business owners and drug cartels.
Governor Hernandez’s Department of Education, in particular, has become a black hole of corruption as teacher’s and administrator’s positions are put on sale to the highest bidder. Some people within the education system manipulate the bureaucracy to “double dip” and receive both a municipal and state income.
The performance of the Education system in Tamaulipas ranks among the worst in Mexico.
During his administration the Gulf Cartel (and Los Zetas before the open warfare between both groups began) has been incorporated into the state PRI apparatus and in fact have become financial contributors.
The power of the drug cartels under the Hernandez Flores administration has grown to the point where the most unthinkable has become reality according to the DEA: virtually every municipal policeman and the majority of state law enforcement agents in Tamaulipas are now controlled by either the Gulf Cartel or Los Zetas.
One of the theories behind the assassination of the PRI candidate for Governor, Rodolfo Torre Cantu, was that this was a revenge hit by Los Zetas against the PRI in Tamaulipas for their collusion with the Gulf Cartel. As such, a reminder to Eugenio Hernandez and the Gulf Cartel that Los Zetas are still players and are not to be taken lightly.
This is 6 more years of what the voiceless and powerless citizens of Tamaulipas face. They are burdened by a state government that exploits them and is mute to their demands for security.
Hernandez is infamous for his statements that Tamaulipas is a peaceful land “nada pasa en Tamaulipas” and that most of the instability is caused by rumors of violence. “Son rumores y psicosis de la poblacion” says Hernandez “ it is based on rumors and a collective psychosis of the population”
They are abandoned by a federal government that has up to this point been largely unable to protect them.
This is precisely what occurs with the interference of drug cartels in the electoral process, to intimidate the voters through threats of extreme violence that will be carried out if necessary to ensure the elections of their preferred candidates. This is what a 25 percent voter turnout will get you.