El Chapo trial exhibits how ‘rampant,’ ‘systemic’ corruption impedes drug battle – NBCNews.com

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By Linked Press

Within the identical Brooklyn courthouse where jurors hang heard testimony about Mexican politicians keeping Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s drug empire, a passe Mexican utter lawyer general pleaded guilty closing month to taking bribes from narcotraffickers.

The juxtaposition underscored a routine theme of Guzman’s Recent York trial: how pervasive official corruption in Mexico complicates American authorities’ efforts to investigate and apprehend these interested concerning the drug substitute.

Jurors are anticipated to birth up deliberating Monday after 11 weeks of testimony that incorporated a parade of Guzman’s passe mates who told of broad bribes paid to excessive-stage officers.

One testified that the Sinaloa cartel paid $10 million, twice, to a high commander within the Mexican Federal Police. One more said Mexico’s passe federal security chief got a $6 million payoff whereas a general got $one hundred,000. Witnesses testified about Guzman getting a police escort after a penal advanced catch away and politicians who asked for support transport one hundred many of cocaine in an oil tanker. Within the most sensational relate, one in every of Guzman’s passe aides said he’d heard him boast about having paid passe Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto $one hundred million.

“The corruption has been rampant, and it be systemic,” said Arturo Fontes, a passe FBI agent who spent years investigating Guzman’s drug syndicate. “We continually knew there turned into a threat of files getting to the depraved of us.”

The accused Mexican leaders hang all denied the bribery allegations as the fabrications of criminals. And the corruption allegations were mostly a sideshow within the trial of Guzman, who is charged with main a cartel that smuggled many of cocaine to the U.S. His attorneys hang said he turned into no longer the precise boss and that its real head is serene at wide in Mexico, protected by a web of bribes.

Nonetheless shimmering testimony about graft equipped a window into the challenges U.S. regulation enforcement brokers face when working with Mexican companions — and the huge lengths they went to within the Guzman case to be decided it wasn’t compromised.

Underscoring the hazards of sharing knowledge with Mexican regulation enforcement, loads of months within the past, a passe Mexican intelligence-unit commander turned into sentenced to about a years in a U.S. federal penal advanced for leaking American investigative secrets to cartel bosses. Final month, Edgar Veytia, the passe lawyer general of the Mexican coastal utter of Nayarit who is diagnosed as “Diablo,” admitted to the use of his badge to support drug-trafficking organizations smuggling narcotics into the U.S., in response to the Justice Division.

Mike Vigil, who turned into a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent for about a years, said no longer even Mexico’s armed forces or federal police will work with authorities on the utter and municipal stage as a result of their “cancerous” propensity for being on the remove.

“They’re squarely within the pockets of the drug cartels, to the level that they remove within the smuggling and transportation of drugs and the killing of cartel enemies,” Vigil told The Linked Press, relating to local police forces. “Must you cannot work with them it, it makes it undoubtedly no longer easy to lift out a number of the missions.”

Nonetheless within the course of the trial, jurors heard testimony about one a hit partnership between U.S. and Mexican authorities: the operation that led to Guzman’s capture in 2014 after he escaped from a Mexican penal advanced for the 2nd time.

DEA operations are restricted in foreign international locations, nevertheless the agency trains “vetted devices” of Mexican federal law enforcement officers to conduct American-led operations. Individuals of the devices are subjected to polygraph exams and required to slip background assessments and urinalysis tests. The DEA taps these officers to conduct surveillance and interdict drug shipments, among completely different tasks.

DEA agent Victor Vazquez told jurors he would finest work with the Mexican marines when searching for to capture Guzman and completely different leaders of the Sinaloa cartel on story of that flit of the armed forces is considered as less at risk of corruption.

He testified that the marines operated from a atrocious outside Mexico’s Sinaloa field for the reason that assumption turned into that all people there, including police, were eyes for the cartel.

“You may perchance well additionally very smartly be driving round in a lion’s den, and you in actuality cannot believe someone,” Vazquez said.

After a first-rate advance-slip over, where Guzman escaped by fleeing thru a tunnel, Mexican marines within the raze captured him at a resort in Miramar.

Supporters of Peña Nieto hang pointed to the capture as proof that he turned into looking Guzman, no longer keeping him. Peña Nieto’s passe chief of crew, Francisco Guzman, said in a Twitter message that the bribery allegation, made by a Colombian passe aide to Guzman, turned into “untrue, defamatory and absurd.”

Guzman’s attorneys hang additionally denied that he paid off Peña Nieto nevertheless alternatively hang called the Mexican executive “twisted.”

At some level of the trial, U.S. prosecutors sought to restrict testimony concerning the alleged bribes to Mexican officers, citing the most likely to hurt family members between the two international locations and additionally foreign governments’ willingness to extradite defendants to the U.S.

Mexico got a recent president whereas the trial turned into below manner who has vowed to make combating corruption a central a part of his administration.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has proposed developing a 50,000-member nationwide guard, originally aloof of contributors of the armed forces and federal police, that may perchance fight the drug cartels within the situation of local police forces deemed too harmful to be trusted.

López Obrador has said he’s no longer in punishing previous governments for corruption nevertheless has promised zero tolerance for corruption in any admire ranges of executive going forward.

While corruption is frequent, Jeronimo Cortina, affiliate director of the Center for Mexican American Research on the University of Houston, said testimony from drug traffickers must be taken “with a grain of salt.”

If Guzman undoubtedly paid a $one hundred million bribe, Cortina said, “it turned into a fallacious substitute option interested about he turned into alternatively extradited to the United States.”

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