June 15, 2024


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Corruption is the underworld’s most unsafe commodity

One of the most influential customers of a lethal Mexican drug cartel was lately arrested in Los Angeles. For several years, his identification had been uncertain, other than that the underworld referred to him as “El Padrino” (The Godfather). His part in the underworld was nicely-documented.

The Godfather’s crimes had been confirmed in hundreds of BlackBerry messenger communications and wiretaps. He served to set up the transportation of drug shipments, launched the cartel’s best leaders to corrupt Mexican government officials willing to acquire bribes, and significantly a lot more.

Only months just after his arrest, at the route of U.S. Legal professional Basic William Barr, The Godfather was unveiled from a U.S. jail and allowed to return, a free gentleman, to Mexico. Which is mainly because The Godfather was Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, Mexico’s minister of defense from 2012 to 2018, in the course of the entire reign of President Enrique Peña Nieto.

I observed corruption initially-hand when doing work undercover inside the Medellin Cartel, and I wrote a book about my activities termed The Infiltrator, which became a New York Situations best-seller. And I do not like what I’m looking at now.

Robert Mazur stands in front of the private jet he used during the operation when he worked undercover inside the Medellin Cartel.
Robert Mazur stands in front of the non-public jet he made use of during the operation when he worked undercover inside the Medellin Cartel. [ Courtesy of Robert Mazur ]

U.S. authorities to start with discovered of Cienfuegos through their investigation and prosecution of a different corrupt high-position Mexican formal, Attorney General Edgar Veytia, whom the underworld knew as “El Diablo” (The Satan). Veytia’s worth to the cartel bundled wrongfully releasing cartel members from jail, facilitating murder, committing violent acts and masking up the murders of customers of rival cartels. All through wiretaps, legislation enforcement commenced to decide up on references to The Godfather and his powerful function inside the cartel.

Authorities received a important crack when, during an intercept, members of the cartel said The Godfather was on tv. Brokers tuned in and saw Cienfuegos on Television set.

Past thirty day period, in opposition to those in the trenches who built the circumstance against Cienfuegos, the U.S. legal professional for the Jap District of New York filed a motion to dismiss costs in opposition to the former defense minister. In accordance to that movement, the proof of his vital role in worldwide heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana conspiracies was frustrating. But the movement asserted that the scenario was dismissed as a make any difference of international policy and in recognition of the robust enforcement partnership concerning Mexico and the United States. It also claimed the situation was dismissed to allow the Mexican investigation and prosecution of Cienfuegos to move forward.

But Mexico has made no guarantee to put Cienfuegos on trial, and Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the latest president of Mexico, has expressed skepticism: “There is no impunity for anybody, but at the similar time crimes will not be allowed to be fabricated. … There have to be aid, evidence — no particular person can be the victim of an injustice.” The Mexican president statements that U.S. tries to prosecute corrupt Mexican officers on U.S. soil are a violation of his nation’s sovereignty.

The evidence is mind-boggling that the most hazardous commodity peddled by the underworld is corruption. Individuals in substantial offices who deliberately turn out to be a section of criminal businesses to experience individual fortunes as a result of corruption ought to have the most significant penalties possible underneath the legislation of the land that endured the penalties of their treason. It is an outrage that U.S. sovereignty was violated by Mexico’s former protection minister via his functions to conspire to import tens of tons of unlawful medication into the United States. Those people medicines were spilled onto the streets of U.S. cities, causing the destruction of thousands and thousands of life.

In advance of succumbing to Mexico’s demands, Lawyer Common Barr need to have compensated extra consideration to the testimony of witnesses in main drug-related trials this sort of as the prosecution of Joaquín “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman. In that testimony just one can locate one more opportunity motive for the optimum-ranking Mexican officers demanding former Defense Minister Cienfuegos’ launch.

Alex Cifuentes, a particular aide to El Chapo, testified in U.S. District Court that a $100 million bribe was compensated to previous Mexican President Peña Nieto at El Chapo’s way. He mentioned the bribe was solicited from El Chapo by Peña Nieto in return for safety. In other phrases, the identical president referenced by Cifuentes as the receiver of this large bribe is the identical president with whom the accused previous protection minister worked carefully, directing the pursuits of Mexico’s army.

Cifuentes also testified that the Beltran Leyva Cartel compensated bribes to Felipe Calderon, president of Mexico concerning 2006 and 2012, and that El Chapo approved far more than $10 million in payments to Mexican armed forces models to destroy cartel rivals and provide safe and sound escort for drug shipments.

Even a motion filed by the U.S. government in the El Chapo demo spoke to the extent of corruption at the best ranges of Mexican leadership. In that movement, the U.S. authorities outlined bribes allegedly paid out to a senior adviser to Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s latest president. That is the similar leader who is outraged that the U.S. federal government introduced rates towards former Defense Minister Cienfuegos.

Much less than a calendar year ago, U.S. authorities arrested Genaro Garcia Luna, the former Mexican secretary of community basic safety. He is the architect of Mexico’s war on drugs and oversaw Mexico’s federal police. The government’s proof in the case introduced versus Garcia Luna will define bribes allegedly compensated to him by the Sinaloa Cartel. Testimony in the El Chapo demo in-depth cartel bagmen twice providing briefcases that contains hundreds of thousands of dollars to Garcia Luna.

Now, Lopez Obrador wishes Genaro Garcia Luna returned to Mexico to allegedly encounter expenses, and he would like to restrict the things to do of DEA agents assigned to Mexico. He would like any and all facts in the possession of DEA brokers in Mexico to be turned about to Mexican authorities.

The ugliness of substantial-amount corruption in many countries, not only Mexico, is a sad saga of humankind. I noticed corruption first-hand when functioning undercover inside the Medellin Cartel. Not only did I get data about Mexican generals enabling traffickers to land commercial-measurement planes on military bases in which tons of medicines were offloaded and then moved to the U.S. border underneath army security, I also uncovered how corrupt Colombian politicians supposed to cover their corrupt collusion with Pablo Escobar from the world’s eyes.

I dealt undercover with a “prestigious” lawyer, Santiago Uribe, who labored carefully with Colombia’s legislature. He authored a lawful brief adopted by Colombian senators about how U.S. extradition of Colombian citizens for drug crimes was a violation of Colombian sovereignty. The similar premise getting argued nowadays by the president of Mexico.

What the rest of the entire world did not know at the time is that Santiago Uribe was the most important lawyer and consigliere for Pablo Escobar. He and Escobar wanted to stop the prosecution of traffickers in the United States so they could cover systemic corruption inside of the Colombian government. That legislation was passed in Colombia, Pablo Escobar pled guilty in Colombia, and then he lived like a king in his self-created jail, from which he directed global trafficking.

Failure to handle corruption has consequences. That lesson is greatest told by way of the story of an American hero, DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a gentleman who manufactured the supreme sacrifice. Kiki labored undercover in Mexico and gathered information that led to the destruction of a 220-acre cannabis plantation. One of the leaders of the cartel, Rafael Caro Quintero, orchestrated the kidnapping of Kiki. With the assistance of corrupt Mexican police, Kiki was kidnapped mainly because Caro Quintero and the rest of the cartel wanted to know how a great deal DEA understood about the Cartel’s corruption of Mexican officials. Kiki was mercilessly tortured for two times. Then, he was killed by a blow to the head. He was buried in a metal-barred chamber.

When attempting to uncover Kiki, DEA agents and Mexican law enforcement spotted Caro Quintero surrounded by 5 device gun-toting bodyguards, strutting towards a personal jet. When he saw the brokers, he beckoned the Mexican law enforcement commander, whispered a guarantee of $270,000 in the commander’s ear, hugged him and turned to the DEA brokers. Immediately after having a swig from a bottle of champagne, he lifted his device gun and said, “My young children, upcoming time provide better weapons, not small toys.” Then he laughed, got on the plane and flew to Costa Rica.

Cops in Costa Rica arrested Caro Quintero. Mexican authorities blocked U.S. attempts to have him extradited to the United States. They insisted that Mexican sovereignty experienced to be preserved by means of their prosecuting this drug lord.

Caro Quintero was “convicted” in Mexico and despatched to a jail, but the prison was converted into a palace for his comfort and ease and that of another kingpin. In that jail they mounted kitchens, a dwelling room, a eating room, places of work, marble bathrooms and a carpeted master bedroom with satin sheets. He experienced radios, telephones, guns and anything at all he desired. He ran his cartel from the jail.

In August 2013, only eight months just after Peña Nieto took business as Mexico’s president, a court in Guadalajara abruptly dismissed the charges in opposition to Caro Quintero and unveiled him on a “technicality.” Mexican officials gave no term to U.S. authorities that this infamous killer of a DEA agent was about to stroll absolutely free. He has vanished into slender air. DEA has presented a $20 million reward for details primary to his seize.

Is it a coincidence that the two most senior men and women in Mexico at the time of Caro Quintero’s “release” were being Peña Nieto, the gentleman accused by cartel hierarchy of possessing acquired a $100 million bribe, and Cienfuegos, The Godfather indicted in the United States on rates of getting a fortune for defending Mexican drug kingpins. It’s possible sometime the United States’ sovereignty and suffering will get some thought in the eyes of Mexico’s leadership. But I doubt it.

Robert Mazur, a federal agent for 27 a long time, is a courtroom-licensed skilled in money-laundering associated issues in both of those the U.S. and Canada. He is the New York Periods greatest-advertising writer of “The Infiltrator,” a memoir of his everyday living undercover as a dollars launderer in just the underworld, and was an govt producer of the movie by the exact identify. He is president of KYC Alternatives, a business that presents talking, training, consulting and pro witness solutions globally.