Mexico’s ex-drug czar busted for cartel collaboration

Mexican authorities detained the country’s former Drug Czar—officially the Special Investigative Sub-Prosecutor for Organized Delinquency (SIEDO)—NoĂ© RamĂ­rez Mandujano Nov. 20, a day after he voluntarily spoke to investigators. RamĂ­rez was named to the post in December 2006 when President Felipe CalderĂłn took office. He submitted his resignation in July at the request of the Prosecutor General of the Republic (PGR).

Mexico’s Prosecutor General Eduardo Medina Mora announced after the arrest that RamĂ­rez is believed to have recieved $450,000 in monthly payments over the last two years from the Beltran Leyva and Zambada GarcĂ­a drug mafias. Several high-ranking Mexican law enforcement officials already have been detained in OperaciĂłn Limpieza (“Operation House Cleaning”), aimed at weeding out officials suspected of sharing information with the Beltran Leyva brothers’ Sinaloa Cartel. The operation was launched following exposure of official by the January arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva.

An anonymous PGR official told reporters earlier Nov. 20 that Mario Arturo Velarde MartĂ­nez, formerly a close aide to Public Safety Secretary Genaro GarcĂ­a Luna, is also being taregted in the investigation. The official was not authorized to be quoted by name.

In another drug-related case, a lawyer for former Federal Preventive Police commander for Regional Security Javier Herrera said that same day that his detention was a reprisal for his complaints about alleged mismanagement on the force. Herrera was detained Nov. 17 for questioning on allegations that he received money from the cartels. His lawyer, Raquenel Villanueva, said he is innocent and is being punished for publicly alleging earlier this year that Garcia Luna had appointed unqualified police officers.

Earlier this month, Rodolfo de la Guardia Garcia, the number-two official at the Federal Investigative Agency (AFI) from 2003-2005, was placed under house arrest pending an investigation of claims he leaked information to the Sinaloa Cartel in return for monthly payments. De la Guardia was elected to Interpol’s executive committee in 2002 but was removed from that post by the Mexican government in 2004. Former federal police commissioner Gerardo Garay and three other officials of the Public Safety Department also were placed under house arrest.

Interpol is sending a special investigative team to Mexico to determine whether sensitive information from its database was leaked to the cartels following the house arrest of Ricardo Gutierrez Vargas, director of the international police agency’s National Central Bureau in Mexico. Gutierrez Vargas had access to Interpol’s database on suspected terrorists, wanted persons, fingerprints and DNA profiles, among other data. Staffers from Interpol’s General Secretariat plan to meet with Mexican authorities to discuss potential improper use of Interpol’s systems, admitted officials at agency’s headquarters in Lyon, France. (Cronica de Hoy, Nov. 22; AP, El Universal, Nov. 21; AP, El Universal, El Universal, Nov. 20)

See our last posts on Mexico’s narco wars.