The trial against the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, revealed a series of corruption schemes in which three Mexican presidents have been involved: Felipe Calderón, Enrique Peña Nieto and Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
A judicial file released by US federal prosecutors in 2019, during the trial of “El Chapo”, and obtained by Keegan Hamilton of Vice magazine, alludes to a bribe allegedly paid by the younger brother of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. , leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, who is still free in Mexico, to an unidentified person who worked in the failed presidential campaign of López Obrador in 2006.
The accusation is based on testimonies given at the time by Colombian drug trafficker Alex Cifuentes, who worked for “El Chapo” between 2007 and 2013.
Cifuentes was questioned about an alleged meeting with US authorities in which he stated that Felipe Calderón accepted bribes from a group at war with the Sinaloa Cartel.
However, at trial, the Colombian replied that he did not remember having made that statement. Calderón denied the accusation and told Vice News in a 2018 interview that he “established a clear rule not to agree with anyone.”
Regarding Peña Nieto, Cifuentes declared that the now former president tried to request a bribe of 250 million dollars from “El Chapo” in October 2012, a few months after being elected.
The Colombian drug trafficker assured that “El Chapo” ended up paying 100 million dollars and suggested that part of the money was delivered in suitcases full of cash to a political consultant who worked in the Peña Nieto campaign.
Peña Nieto’s former spokesman described the accusations as “false, defamatory and absurd.”
In the case of the López Obrador campaign, Cifuentes alleged that the bribe was allegedly delivered by Jesús Reynaldo Zambada García “El Rey”, a senior member of the Sinaloa Cartel who testified against “El Chapo” in November.
Questioned on the subject, a spokesman for López Obrador told Vice in 2019 that he could not comment on statements by a protected witness in a trial that is not taking place in Mexico.
During the trial, Guzmán Loera’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, stated: “The current and former president of Mexico (López Obrador and Peña Nieto) received hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes from ‘El Mayo.'”
Prosecutors convinced Judge Brian Cogan to stop “El Chapo’s” lawyers from questioning “El Rey” about López Obrador, but the bribery allegation became public after Cifuentes’ explosive testimony.
In July 2019, “El Chapo”, extradited to the United States in 2017, was sentenced to life imprisonment plus an additional 30 years, as leader of a cartel that sent tons of drugs to the United States.