Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Thursday, July 30, 2020

New York Grand Jury Indicts Two (Additional) Former Leaders of Mexico’s Drug War for Cartel Connections

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat  TY GUS  Propublica

One official oversaw a unit that leaked information and triggered a massacre that was the subject of a ProPublica investigation. Though the indictment doesn’t link the men to the incident, it alleges corruption at Mexico’s highest levels.

A New York grand jury on Thursday indicted two former leaders of the Mexican federal police force, including one who oversaw the anti-narcotics units that were specially vetted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and were linked to two brazen massacres in Mexico that left dozens, possibly hundreds, of people dead and missing.

The indictments marked a stunning fall from grace for Ramón Pequeño García and Luis Cárdenas Palomino, who had been celebrated by U.S. national security and diplomatic officials as trusted partners in the fight against Mexican drug cartels.

On Thursday, a federal grand jury found that instead of combating the cartels, there was evidence that the men had been collaborating with and accepting millions in bribes from them. Cárdenas Palomino had served as the director of regional operations for the federal police force between 2006 and 2012. During that time, Pequeño was head of the federal police anti-narcotics division, which controlled the DEA’s Sensitive Investigative Units.

A ProPublica investigation in 2018 found that those units had a long history of deadly leaks to drug traffickers. One of those leaks triggered a spree of violence in Allende, a Mexican ranching town about 40 minutes from the U.S. border. The massacre left scores of innocent people dead. Another leak sparked a deadly attack on innocent guests at a Holiday Inn in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey.

Thursday’s indictments do not link either Pequeño or Cárdenas Palomino directly to those incidents. However, they make clear that the disastrous leaks were part of a systemic problem that reached to the highest levels of the Mexican government. And they provided more evidence of the tragic consequences of the United States’ role in Mexico’s drug war.

The indictments are part of an investigation into Mexican government corruption that began after the conviction of Mexico’s most wanted drug trafficker, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, in February 2019. In December, prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York arrested their first big target, Genaro García Luna, the former head of Mexico’s federal police force and a man so powerful that The New York Times described him as that country’s Eliot Ness, one of the America’s most famous federal law enforcement agents.

Pequeño and Cárdenas Palomino were two of García Luna’s chief lieutenants. Beginning in 2006, when García Luna was appointed to a cabinet-level position as Mexico’s security chief, the three men were celebrated on both sides of the border as the bold, new architects of Mexico’s fight against drug cartels. All three men worked closely with senior U.S. security and diplomatic officials. The United States poured hundreds of millions of dollars in training and equipment into their efforts and began sharing increasing amounts of highly sensitive intelligence.

That fight led to the arrests of dozens of kingpins but also to record numbers of deaths and disappearances. It did not stop the flow of drugs across the border. Still, Mexican and American authorities defended the fight, saying the bloodshed was a necessary evil in their efforts to dismantle the cartels. And while allegations of corruption swirled around García Luna and his team, and evidence emerged that the intelligence channels were leaky, senior American authorities, at least for a time, appeared to shrug them off.

The indictments Thursday make clear that’s changed. They allege a staggering degree of cooperation between García Luna, Pequeño and Cárdenas Palomino and one of the world’s most notorious drug cartels. The police officials agreed not to interfere with the Sinaloa Cartel’s drug shipments, most of which ended up in the United States, and to provide its leaders with sensitive information about law enforcement operations targeting the cartel, as well as its rivals. Moreover, the indictment alleges, the officials targeted those rivals for arrest, instead of Sinaloa members, and assigned corrupt officials to oversee security agencies in regions of Mexico where the Sinaloa Cartel had its operations.

One of the first U.S. cases against García Luna’s police force  came in 2018 when a former chief of Mexico’s SIU, and Pequeño’s right-hand man, turned himself in to U.S. authorities in Chicago and, later, pleaded no contest to charges that he had used his position for years to collaborate with drug traffickers. Several months after that, the trial against Chapo Guzmán included testimony from a cast of major drug traffickers who described delivering suitcases of cartel cash to García Luna and his aides.

Upon hearing the news of the indictments, Andrew Selee, a longtime expert on Mexico at the Migration Policy Institute, said, “That’s incredible,” and added that they would “force us to rethink everything we thought we knew” about the recent anti-narcotics efforts in Mexico.

Eric Olson, a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center, was similarly stunned and said the arrests showed the ruinous results of U.S. policies in Mexico that prioritize law enforcement.

“Now we see there’s a trade-off to turning a blind eye to people like García Luna,” he said. “If you turn a blind eye, you’re going to pay a price in the long run. The price is democracy and rule of law. How is that in our interest?”

Thursday’s indictments against Pequeño and Cárdenas Palomino followed months of unsuccessful efforts by U.S. law enforcement agents and prosecutors to convince the two men to cooperate in the case against their former boss. Both remain at large in Mexico.

Meanwhile García Luna, who is alleged to have amassed a multimillion-dollar fortune in drug money, remains in custody at a federal jail in Brooklyn. Prosecutors yesterday announced that he was being indicted under the so-called Kingpin Statute, designed to target precisely the kinds of criminal leaders he was once sworn to fight. A legal expert pointed out that the statute requires prosecutors demonstrate that García Luna ran a criminal organization of five or more people, suggesting that there are more indictments to come.


  1. Ramón Pequeño García,is the guy who presented the perp walks of Hummer,Mamito,Amarillo,and many many others,he was the face of the gob media presentation.The US would be lambasted whatever it did.No help,crying,help,crying,damned if you,you know the rest.Need to be a bit more hardline in this time of political hypocrisy

  2. About time a Mexican official is charged as a Kingpin since they run the game.
    As this report shows the long term effects of turning a blind eye and the damage it causes to the Rule of Law.
    Great Job Chivis....I hope you and yours are staying safe from the Corona

    1. Thank you! SO far so good on this end.
      Australia has done so well, what is this about a 'new wave'?

    2. Do you think chapo is..if any the source of information on these ex political elites

    3. Yes I'm in Melbourne which is worst hit by this 2nd wave which is now more deadly then the 1st so we are looking at a Stage 4 Lockdown in the coming days.

  3. I’ve always said that a gentlemen will only get as far as a woman will allow him to. It’s the same for criminals. They’ll only get as far as authorities will allow them get.

  4. Where is the “chapo snitched” guy when you need him!!! 🤷🏽‍♂️🤷🏽‍♂️🤷🏽‍♂️

  5. Basketball is back something we all need

  6. All these people who are 'shocked', 'amazed' and 'incredible'-ed are either blind, liers or fucking idiots.

    The highest level of Mexican government being utterly corrupt is so blatantly obvious since ages. The Federales orchestrating the drug racket on a national level anybody saw who cared to look.

    The immense reach of criminal syndicates in Mexico has only become possible with the complete backing of the government.

    The big question for me is why US justice and law-enforcement still ignore the money trail and when something pops-up (Wells Fargo, HSBC) only hands out handslap penalties.

    Are maybe certain US institutions and individuals with a stake in the drug trade untouchable???

  7. Welcome to a justice system that works for those who feel untouchable.
    Still waiting for former presidents to be indicted for their role in drug trafficking.
    Something that many people think will never happen.

  8. De la Madrid was from Durango. During his sexenio, narco enforcement focused on Nuevo Leon/Tamaulipas. Salinas de Gortari was from Nuevo Leon and during his administration law enforcement went after Sinaloa and the Pacific littoral. See a pattern here? Every president and his cronies focus on a portion of the country away from their home base or the cartels that haven't financed. You can research the more recent ones for yourself. True story: In 2000, a senior member of Fox incoming admin stated confidentially that Robledo and his boy Genaro were pulling off many of the high-dollar kidnaps with the a backing of Manuel Bartlett Diaz, a PRI dinosaur who is still around

  9. This is not looking good for Mexican Officials looks like a witchhh hunt to me

  10. talk about dangerous New York City

  11. Looks like Genero garćia Luna is started to spill the beans... plea deal anyone??

  12. GGL singing like a jailhouse surprise....hope he gets to be neighbors with Chapo, but these guys always end up in Club Fed.

  13. Mexico should be the one putting its own corrupt politicians behind bars, There is too many promises of getting rid of corruption by the president yet its almost unheard of high level officials getting locked up. Instead its the United States whos charging them. Even if theyre corrupt Mexican politicians breaking Mexican laws, theyre being handled as if they where corrupt american politicians breaking american laws.

    1. @4:58 You just don't know. Solo los que están en la jugada saben la movida, these are officials that served during Calderons term and have removed themselves from "public service" after filling their pockets with public and dirty money and it just so happens to be where JAGL was prosecuted. Cooperation? It's the Eastern district of NY, just because it's federal doesn't mean the order is coming from DC. AMLO seems to be going after the corrupt officials from the prior administration and recent past, do you notice that? "Nadie sabe para quien trabaja"

  14. El borracho de Calderon is next

    1. Don’t judge him he in the family still maybe he will make it out with all the millions he got from chapo since they are in family

  15. Funny how THEY ALWAYS blame 🇲🇽
    The 🇺🇸 3 letter AGENCIES do THAT in EVERY place THEY go but are NEVER charged with ANY crimes..
    The United STATES of America to the rest of the Americas "DO AS I say NOT what I DO"


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