One of Tamaulipas state Gov. Eugenio Hernandez’s bodyguards has been ordered held in preventive detention for 40 days, giving prosecutors time to investigate his alleged links to drug traffickers, the Attorney General’s Office said.
Ismael Marino Ortega Galicia works on Hernandez’s security team.
The 35-year-old Ortega is a member of the Gulf drug cartel wanted by authorities in Mexico and the United States, the Mexico City daily Reforma reported Saturday.
Prosecutors will now have time to “gather more evidence that will allow them to refine the investigation against him,” the Attorney General’s Office said.
Ortega was detained over the weekend by marines in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas, as a witness.
A judge, however, ordered Tuesday that Ortega be held pending completion of an investigation by prosecutors.
Ortega appears in a photo taken in March of Gov. Hernandez, Reforma said.
The suspected drug cartel gunman has links to Los Zetas, Reforma said, citing intelligence officials.
Tamaulipas state officials, however, denied over the weekend that Ortega was a drug cartel gunman for whom the United States is offering a $5 million reward.
The press report about Ortega is incorrect, Tamaulipas Public Safety Secretary Jose Ives Soberon Tijerina said on Saturday.
Ortega served in the army from 1991 to 1999, joined the defunct AFI, Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI, and later became a member of the Tamaulipas state police, serving as a bodyguard for the governor and other public officials, Soberon said.
Ortega was accused by the U.S. Treasury Department in early 2003 of having links to organized crime groups, gave a statement to state prosecutors and was exonerated, returning to duty, the public safety secretary said.
He was accused once again of having ties to organized crime groups in 2007 and this year, but he was not arrested because the allegations were not substantiated.
Ortega has a visa issued by the United States and has traveled to that country several times without being arrested, Soberon said.
Tamaulipas has been rocked in recent months by a wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
The violence has intensified in the border state since the appearance in February in Monterrey, the capital of neighboring Nuevo Leon state, of giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia Michoacana drug cartels against Los Zetas, a band of Mexican special forces deserters turned hired guns.
After several years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.
The cartels arrayed against Los Zetas blame the group’s involvement in kidnappings, armed robbery and extortion for discrediting “true drug traffickers” in the eyes of ordinary Mexicans willing to tolerate the illicit trade as long as the gangs stuck to their own unwritten rule against harming innocents.
Rodolfo Torre Cantu, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, gubernatorial candidate in Tamaulipas, was killed along with four other people on June 28 in an attack believed to have been carried out by drug traffickers.