El Chapo allegedly paid a USD $100 million bribe to Peña Nieto

16/01/2019
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13:42
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Reuters y redacción
El Chapo allegedly paid a USD $100 million bribe to Peña Nieto
Mexico's former President, Enrique Peña Nieto - Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL

El Chapo allegedly paid a USD $100 million bribe to Peña Nieto

16/01/2019
13:42
Reuters y redacción
Mexico City
Brendan Pierson, David Graham
-A +A
In November 2018, Guzmán's lawyer claimed El Chapo had bribed two former Mexican Presidents, Peña Nieto and Felipe Calderón

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Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán once paid a USD $100 million bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, on Tuesday, the former associate testified that he previously told this to U.S. authorities.

Alex Cifuentes, who has described himself as Guzmán’s onetime right-hand man, discussed the alleged bribe under cross-examination by one of Guzmán’s lawyers. When asked if he told authorities in 2016 that Guzmán arranged the bribe, he answered, “That’s right.”

Cifuentes testified that he had told U.S. prosecutors Peña Nieto reached out to Guzmán first, asking for USD $250 million not to arrest him. Cifuentes told the prosecutors that the bribe was paid in October 2012, when Peña Nieto was President-elect, he testified.

Cifuentes said he told prosecutors at a later meeting, last year, that he was no longer sure of the exact amounts of the bribes, but did not elaborate. Cifuentes also said that Guzmán once told him that he had received a message from Peña Nieto saying that he did not have to live in hiding anymore.

Peña Nieto has previously denied taking bribes from drug traffickers.

Peña Nieto was President of Mexico from December 2012 to November 2018. He previously served as Governor of the State of Mexico.

This is not the first time former President Peña Nieto is mentioned during Guzmán's trial. In November 2018, Guzmán's lawyer claimed El Chapo had bribed two former Mexican Presidents, Peña Nieto and Felipe Calderón.

Peña Nieto's former Chief of Staff, Francisco Guzmán Ortiz denied the accusations made by Cifuentes through his Twitter account and said that Peña Nieto's government located, arrested, and extradited El Chapo.

Guzmán, 61, has been on trial since November. He was extradited to the United States in 2017 to face charges of trafficking cocaine, heroin, and other drugs into the country as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Captured by Peña Nieto’s government in February 2014, Guzmán broke out of prison for a second time 17 months later, escaping through a mile-long tunnel dug right under his cell.

The jailbreak humiliated the government and battered the President’s already damaged credibility. Later, Peña Nieto personally announced the news of the drug lord's third capture when he was arrested in January 2016.

Cifuentes is one of a dozen witnesses who have testified against Guzmán after striking deals with U.S. prosecutors. Other witnesses at the trial have also made accusations of high-level corruption.

Earlier, Cifuentes also testified that Guzmán asked an associate to pay a $10 million bribe to a general. The witness said the bribe was never paid and Guzmán subsequently ordered the associate killed, though the hit was never carried out.

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