Sept 28th Mexico City – At an appearance today with the San Lazaro commission, the Secretary of Public Security (SSP) said that the investigation into the massacre of 72 migrantes at a farm in San Fernando, Tamaulipas has resulted in the arrest of individuals believed to be responsible for the murders.
To give this story context, this is not the first time Garcia Luna has had to deny ties to organized crime. I didn't translate it and although the article is two years old, I felt it would be a good piece to go along with the events of today's appearance by the Secretary of Public Security.
translated by Kristin Bricker
Federal police say Garcia Luna's bodyguards witnessed the head of Mexico's Public Security
The Secretary of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna, who is considered untouchable and Felipe Calderon's "spoiled official," has maintained numerous public officials accused of having links to drug traffickers--El Mayo Zamabada in particular--in his inner circle. An investigation carried out by agents who are opposed to the proposed police integration assure in a letter sent to Congress, which Proceso has a copy of, that this past October numerous armed men intercepted Garcia Luna on a highway and disarmed members of his escort while a gangster warned him, "This is the first and last warning so that you know that, yes, we can get to you if you don't follow through on the pact..." The document adds that then Garcia Luna withdrew from the spot for four hours in order to negotiate with the gangster...
With his powerful tentacles and his ability to corrupt police and infiltrate the institutions responsible for combatting drug trafficking--including the National Defense Department--, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia has extensive control within the Public Security
The owner of estates and ranches, untouchable in Sinaloa--his stronghold--, Zambada Garcia has broad networks of complicity at his disposal in the most important departments in the PGR [Federal Attorney General's Office], such as the SIEDO [
Also untouchable and considered to be President Felipe Calderon's "spoiled official," Garcia Luna doesn't appear to escape the networks that Zambada Garcia and the Beltran Leyva brothers created in the SSP. The Beltran Leyva brothers left the Sinaloa cartel following a division sparked by the aprehension of Alfredo "El Mochomo" Beltran this past January.
Police who are opposed to the federal police unification project carried out an investigation regarding the alleged ties between Garcia Luna and Zambada Garcia's and Arturo "El Barbas" Beltran Leyva's cells.
In a field investigation, backed up by records and revelations that were supposedly made by Garcia Luna's own body guards,
The document details:
...This past October 19 (...) the current Federal Secretary of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna and his escort, comprised of approximately 27 agents, (...) was intercepted or summoned on the Cuernavaca-Tepoztlan highway by a high-ranking gangster who was accompanied by an undetermined number of shooters or hitmen in approximately 10 armored Suburbans. Said official's escort did nothing to protect him, apparently due to a verbal order from him (Garcia Luna).The letter that is now in the hands of legislators--a copy was delivered to Proceso--adds that members of Garcia Luna's escort, under orders "from the high ranking drug gangster," were disarmed and blindfolded for "approximately four hours."
The agents who are familiar with the incident, and whose names are omitted for fear of reprisals, state in the document that the "gangster's" voice said to Garcia Luna: "This is the first and last warning so that you know that, yes, we can get to you if you don't follow through on the pact."
The document asserts that, after the gangster's statement, Garcia Luna retreated, "leaving his escorts to their own luck, without knowing the route he took or what he did during those four long hours, time in which he could talk in a more comfortable place away from the spot where the alleged incident occurred."
And, in another point, the letter says:
It shouldn't go unnoticed that the Secretary in question is an expert actor in deceit. It should be remembered that in the past he created a circus around a kidnapping in Ajusco in Mexico City in which a French woman was supposedly involved, where he summoned the televised media and (...) manipulated all of his bodyguards, making them believe that what happened was a drug gangster's attempt to intimidate (a levanton or drug-related kidnapping), though the truth is that it was a meeting arranged by this alleged gangster.According to investigations carried out by
For example, Édgar Enrique Bayardo del Villar, ex-inspector assigned to the Federal Preventive Police's Operations Section, was taken into custody by the SIEDO for allegedly serving Zambada Garcia. Close to Garcia Luna, with a salary no higher than MX$26,000 monthly [at the time approximately USD$2,600], Enrique Bayardo rose out of poverty to achieve a magnificent wealth.
According to the investigation of the facts, in which PFP agents Jorge Cruz Méndez and Fidel Hernández are also implicated, Bayardo del Villar today owns two residences with a combined value of close to 9 million pesos.
Overnight, Bayardo del Villar broke out of his financial difficulties and bought himself BMW, aMercedes Benz, and an armored Cherokee. He spent 12 million pesos on these acquisitions and, just like his residences, he paid for them in cash.
Another piece of this network that is presumably at the service of the brothers Jesús and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada--within Garcia Luna's inner circle of trust--is Gerardo Garay Cadena, ex-commissioner of the PFP, who this past November 1 resigned from his position to voluntarily put himself "at the disposal of the authorities," although the SIEDO immediately put him under administrative detention. During the inquiries the spotlight also fell on other officials linked to Garay Cadena. One of them is Francisco Navarro, chief of the SSP's Special Operations, with broad control over the Mexico City International Airport, known as one of the major operations centers where drugs come in and drug trafficking money goes out.
Within this group that, according to the PGR, protected El Mayo Zambada, Luis Cárdenas Palominos also appears. Known as Garcia Luna's "right hand man," he wasn't put under administrative detention but he keeps being called to make statements to the SIEDO. Other high-ranking SSP and PFP officials who are held under administrative detention are Jorge Cruz Méndez and Fidel Hernández García.
The statement delivered to the federal Congress, in particular to the Security and Justice commissions--where the project to unify the federal police is being pushed, which is said will be resolved this year--, the AFI agents assert that Garcia Luna is incorporating personnel into the PFP and the SSP who have criminal records and ties to organized crime.
In the majority of the cases, they warn about inexperience and improvisation in investigations related to organized crime activity that, according to Edgardo Buscaglia, an investigator with the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), constitute a range of 25 crimes such as drug trafficking, contraband, kidnapping, and human trafficking.
In their statement, the agents tackle the corruption and disorder that run rampant in Garcia Luna's agency. They say that personnel called to leave the AFI [which Garcia Luna used to run] and join the Federal Police [which Garcia Luna now runs as head of the SSP] have not completed four years of police duty and that priority is given to those who come recommended or who are supporters of high-ranking officials, as well as "high-ranking officials' friends and lovers."
A number of the agents' statements and warnings can be confirmed even in recent incidents. For example, two days after Gerardo Garay's resigniation, on November 3, Garcia Luna named Rodrigo Esparza Cisterna as acting commissioner of the PFP. Esparza Cisterna has a history that is as long as it is shady.
In 1993, when Rodrigo Esparza was a PGR delegate in Sinaloa, the first rumblings surfaced over his alleged relationship with Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, then a bitter rival of the Arellano Félix brothers, the bosses of the Tijuana cartel.
According to the official memo DGPDSC/UEA/1938/2005, dated August 12, 2005, and obtained through a request to the Federal Institute for Access to Information (record number 0001700181305), Esparza was accused of impeding the administration of justice. Said accusation was registered in the criminal proceeding 159/93, which came out of the criminal investigation 3423/93. On June 28, 1993, the charges were accepted by the Third Criminal Court in the Ramo District in Mexico City, and later he was imprisoned awaiting trial.
His detention was revoked on August 23, 1993, via judicial tricks. In less than three months, Esparza saw the investigation into his alleged wrongdoings buried with a stay of proceedings in his case. This precedent notwithstanding, Rodrigo Esparza is now Garcia Luna's right hand man in the PFP.
A Portrait of Power
El Mayo Zambada was chubby and round-faced, but one day Vicente and Amado Carrillo, who underwent plastic surgery in the Santa
Zambada lost weight and made his cheeks smaller. His face became more chiseled and a bit elongated thanks to the face lift. When Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos was head of the SIEDO, federal agents found, during a search of one of his multiple properties, a photograph where Zambada Garcia looked rejuvenated and slender. The photo was saved in the files related to the Juarez cartel, the organization that El Mayo belonged to. Untouchable for decades, Ismael Zambada has demonstrated his power and ability to increasingly infiltrate government institutions during the Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox, and Felipe Calderon administrations:over 35 Federal District Attorney agents assigned to the SIEDO were his employees, and each one received USD $350,000 - $400,000 monthly fo rleaking information about case files, and preliminary investigations in process against members of his organization. During Vicente Fox's term,the Sinaloa cartel even infiltrated the National Defense Department (SEDENA), where, through Arturo "El Chaky" Gonzalez Hernandez, various high-ranking military officials who operated the telecommunications systems were coopted. They advised him in advance that in a matter of days or hours military operations would be carried out.
Moreover, El Mayo Zambada had control of the Sinaloa police, and high-ranking military commanders looked after his personal safety and his businesses. The impunity and power were of such a magnitude that in December 2005 at the El Mezquite ranch, a Christmas party was organized. The band Ilusion provided the
This drew the attention of a sector of the Mexican military stationed in Sinaloa, which requested a search warrant in order to enter the ranch. Due to the fact that--rather unusually--it took hours to issue the warrant, Zambada Garcia had time to leave the site, which was protected by police, and calmly go to his hideout, a fortress whose entrances and sidewalks are permanently guarded by his people.
In May 2007, the United States Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control published a report that six companies and twelve people in Mexico are part of Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada's financial network.
The US report indicates that Zambada's ex-wife, Rosario Niebla Cardoza, was well as his four daughters--Maria Teresa, Miriam Patricia,
After the falling out between the Beltran Leyva brothers and "El Chapo" Guzman, the Sinaloa cartel--at its peak it was perhaps the most powerful criminal organization in Latin America--suffered a reduction in power, but it hasn't been brought down completely.
According to information from the SSP and the PGR, the Beltrans extended their tentacles: they penetrated the SIEDO, the PGR, and a good part of the military's regional commands, in addition to allying themselves with Los Zetas and the Juarez cartel, whose current boss is Vicente "El Viceroy" Carrillo.
Zambada Garcia and Joaquin Guzman have maintained their alliance, and Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel and the Cazares Salazar brothers are also a part of this group.
This drug clan suffered a loss recently: this past October 17, Jesus "El Rey" Zambada Garcia, El Mayo's brother who had a reputation for being discrete, was detained in Mexico City. Up until 2007, Jesus Zambada was not considered a kingpin--not even by United States intelligence agencies--, but after his capture Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora described him as one of the most important people in El Mayo Zambada's money laundering network.
Another event alluded to the true power of El Rey Zambada: in Culiacan, Sinaloa, a banner was hung near
Chapo Guzman, they kill your son and you keeping being murderers' friends. Don't be ashamed; how Nachito Coronel has changed you. He bosses you around to his liking and all because he takes care of you. Intelligent El Rey Zambada: you are killing counties, states, and ministerial cabinets, and he is unloading ephedrine and cocaine in the Mexico City airport.In October--the month in which Garcia Luna was supposedly intercepted in Morelos, according to the agents' statement--, the blows against El Mayo Zambada's organization worsened. The Quinta La Paloma and Los Alpes ranches in Acaxochitlan, Hidalgo, were searched by federal police. The SIEDO said the properties belonged to El Rey Zambada.
El Mayo Zambada received a financial blow on September 18 when USD$26 million was seized--money which he had hidden in a safe house, carefully stacked in egg boxes.
Despite the blows against the Sinaloa cartel and notwithstanding the division that it suffered with its separation from the Beltran brothers, the organization continues afloat in drug trafficking: it controls sea ports and airports, and it has allies in high levels within the SSP who, according to the missive sent by federal police to Congress, "are obligated to follow through on the pacts."