In my recent article "What is Guerreros Unidos?" I mentioned the Pineda Villa family, with a focus on the mother Leonor Villa Ortuño. Thereafter, Proceso published an amazingly well written and researched article by Anabel Hernández about the Pineda Villa siblings. The following is an English translation of the article in its entirety.
The attack by hitmen and municipal police officers of Iguala, Guerrero, against the students of the Normal of Ayotzinapa on September 26th, which left six dead and 43 missing, could have been avoided.
In court records and other information collected by Proceso the negligent actions of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR), which allowed Salomón Pineda Villa, "El Salo" or "El Molón", to be free, is evident. The authorities identified him as "maximum leader" of the criminal group Guerreros Unidos and he was one of the authors of the attack against the normalistas.
According to the criminal case 101/2009, to which this weekly magazine had access to, "El Salo" —brother of María de los Ángeles Pineda, wife of now fugitive ex mayor of Iguala, José Luis Abarca— was arrested in Cuernavaca along with his father Salomón Pineda Bermúdez, his mother Leticia Villa Ortuño and nine more people on May 5, 2009, in an operation of the Federal Secretary of Public Security (SSP), headed by Genaro García Luna.
Ministerial records and testimonies identified "El Salo" and his brothers as drug traffickers that operated in Guerrero and Morelos since at least 2002, first in an independent form, afterwords as operative leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel and later of the Beltrán Leyvas.
But because of the shortcomings of the PGR —in the previous administration, when it was headed by Eduardo Medina Mora and Marisela Morales—in the integration of preliminary investigation, on April 5, 2013 the Second District Court in Federal Criminal Processes in the state of Nayarit acquitted him and issued the order of immediate liberty in favor of Salomón Pineda.
According to the ruling, during four years the PGR was incapable of presenting sufficient evidence to prove any of the four crimes that "El Salo" was charged: organized crime; crimes against health; possession of firearms of the exclusive use of the army, navy and air force, and possession of ammunition of the exclusive use of the army, navy and air force. Upon being detained he was in possession of 11 firearms and more than 300 rounds of ammunition.
Salomón Pineda Bermúdez and Leonor Villa Ortuño had five children: Julio Guadalupe, Alberto, Mario, María de los Ángeles and Salomón.
The criminal activities of the Pineda Villa brothers began as a small family business. At the beginning of 2000, Alberto, Mario and Salomón, without belonging to any cartel, sold drugs in their native Guerrero. For them, a business problem opened the door to the world of large-scale drug trafficking, according to the court record.
In June 2002, Richard Arroyo Guízar —stepson of Jesús Reynaldo Zambada, "El Rey Zambada", brother of "El Mayo Zambada"— received a call from Mario Pineda Villa, "El MP".
Since 1992, Arroyo was one of the chiefs of plaza of the Sinaloa Cartel in the Distrito Federal thanks to his closeness to "El Rey Zambada"; that was until his capture in October 2008. Afterwords he joined the protected witnesses program of the PGR under the pseudonym of María Fernanda.
"El MP" had restrained some Colombians because his brother, Alberto Pineda Villa, "El Borrado", had been kidnapped in Colombia because of a debt of five million dollars.
Arroyo and Mario Pineda met in Mexico City. The former accepted to serve as mediator in the conflict. An agreement was reached: the Colombians would release "El Borrado" and "El MP" would liberate the South Americans. Pineda made a commitment to pay off the debt, although he requested time to raise the money, and Alberto was immediately freed.
Two days later, " El Borrado " met with Arroyo to thank him for his help. There he learned "that they were originally from Guerrero", he said in his ministerial declaration. They became friends.
Thus, recommended by Arroyo, in 2002 the brothers-in-law of the fugitive former mayor formally joined the Sinaloa Cartel becoming the one in charge of the operations in Zihuatanejo and other areas of Guerrero, at the orders of Arturo Beltrán Leyva.
The Pinedas proved their effectiveness in the reception and transfer of drugs that came from Colombia and Venezuela to the beaches of Guerrero in speedboats, and by air to the Acapulco airport. They were also placed in charge of the control of the state of Morelos, where they bribed public officials to allow them transit through the entity without being arrested.
In 2005, on instructions of the Sinaloa Cartel, the brothers formed a cell of hitmen called Los Pelones to control Guerrero.
According to Arroyo, that group was the predecessor of Guerreros Unidos, the criminal group allegedly responsible for the attack on September 26 in Iguala, while María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa gave her second report as head of the municipal DIF.
According to Arroyo, Los Pelone were 200 hitmen "from the sierra of Guerrero". Newspaper records indicate that for years Los Pelones staged a bloody battle to defend the Guerrero plaza from the attacks of Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana. Directly responsible for the hitmen was "El MP".
Of the Pineda brothers, "El Borrado" was the closest to Arturo Beltrán Leyva. He received the orders of action for Los Pelones and transmitted them to the "El MP". "El Salo" was always, according to the declarations of Arroyo, "the one entrusted with the distribution of cocaine in Mexico and trafficking from Mexico to the city of Atlanta, United States".
In December 2009 the federal SSP announced the death of "El Borrado" and of "El MP", whose bodies allegedly were found on the México-Cuernavaca highway. The homicide was attributed to Arturo Beltrán Leyva, who had retaliated because of a betrayal.
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
In 2009 in the PGR there was a man key in the composure of the preliminary investigations in the field of organized crime: Víctor Jorge León Maldonado, general coordinator of the Deputy Attorney of Specialized Investigation in Organized Crime (SIEDO, today SEIDO) from 2008 to 2010.
León Maldonado not only badly composed the preliminary inquiry against Salomón Pineda, which led to his release, but he was also the author of other cases of the PGR that ended up being overturned.
Invited by the governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero, León Maldonado is currently Deputy Attorney of Regional Control and Penitentiary Procedures of the Attorney General of Justice of Guerrero and locally responsible for investigating the acts in which Salomón Pineda Villa would be implicated in.
In the ruling handed down in April 2013, Carlos Verdugo Partida, Secretary in Functions of the Second District Court in Federal Criminal Processes in the state of Nayarit excluded all the pieces of evidence that the PGR presented against "El Salo".
With regards to the declarations of Arroyo, he said that the first was a public document and did not characterize it as testimonial evidence because it was given in another preliminary investigation, the PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/163/2009, not that which was carried against Pineda Villa.
With respect to the ministerial declaration of May 28, 2009, rendered directly in the preliminary investigation against "El Salo", he dismissed it because the PGR contaminated the testimony requesting Arroyo to identify Salomón Pineda Villa in photographs.
Likewise, Verdugo considered that the informative part of the federal police officers that detained "El Salo" was "legally insufficient" and all of the highlighted "does not assess that the active subject (Salomón Pineda Villa) was part of a criminal organization or that he participated in providing protection to the members of the same".
In the penitentiary case 234/2013 of the Second Unitary Tribunal of the Twenty Fourth Circuit in 2013, to which Proceso was able to consult, it was recorded that the PGR, headed by Jesús Murillo Karam, appealed the throwing out of the sentencing of Pineda Villa, but with the same deficiencies with which the criminal case was formulated... and they lost.
The documents prove that the PGR in this administration already knew the background of Pineda Villa, brother-in-law of the ex mayor Abarca; despite this Murillo Karam did not immediately act when he received the first complaints against the now fugitive former official.
Ever since Abarca flirted with the highest bidder —PRI or PRD— to be candidate for mayor of Iguala in 2012, in the Guerrero press the reports that he was a relative of the Pineda Villas and that he also was allegedly implicated with drug trafficking grew.
On Thursday the 9th the federal government leaked to the media that Salomón Pineda Villa had been detained by the marines in Cuernavaca. The news, reported on the internet, radio, television and published the next day in the newspapers, was not denied by the PGR, but by the governor of Morelos, Graco Ramírez, Monday the 13th.
On Tuesday the 14th, Proceso requested from the PGR the number of the new criminal case opened against Salomón Pineda Villa and the court where it would be found. Two days later the official response from SEIDO was: "We do not have it". It was then asked if the marines might have it and they responded that that would be illegal, since by law, if he was arrested by the federal government, he should have been presented before the PGR.
Despite that the federal government had informed that "El Salo" was detained yesterday, it was unaware of his whereabouts. To this must be added that on Friday the 17th Murillo Karam announced the capture of Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado, whom he referred to as the "maximum leader of the Guerreros Unidos Cartel".