Mexico to prosecute judges who colluded with drug cartels

The President announced he would expose corrupt judges who have colluded with criminals

Mexico to prosecute judges who colluded with drug cartels
U.S. authorities sanctioned the allegedly corrupt judge - Photo: Edgard Garrido/REUTERS
English 21/05/2019 12:44 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Reuters Actualizada 12:55
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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, looking to make good on a promise to end with corruption, will go after judges that have aligned themselves with drug cartels, a government official said.

The United States imposed sanctions on a Mexican judge and a former Nayarit governor on Friday, accusing them of taking bribes from drug traffickers, and saying that government corruption had allowed Mexican drug cartels to operate with impunity.

Santiago Nieto, head of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Intelligence Unit, said authorities were investigating other cases of judges that may have taken bribes from drug lords, emphasizing that the government would make sure that no one is above the law.

“I have received instructions from the President of the republic to go after anybody, regardless of their position or party loyalty,” Nieto said in an interview with Reuters.

The magistrate sanctioned on Friday, Isidro Avelar Gutiérrez, accepted bribes from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Los Cuinis Drug Trafficking Organization in exchange for favorable rulings for their senior members, according to the U.S. Treasury Department and Drug Enforcement Agency.

Asked if the case of Avelar Gutiérrez was the only tip of the iceberg, Nieto said it was, but added he could not discuss the details of any open investigations.

“What I can say is that we are working in coordination with various institutions of the Mexican state in cases related to corruption in the judicial system,” said Nieto. “The Mexican financial system must not be used by criminal groups to launder money.”

In December, shortly after taking office, López Obrador took aim at the finances of the powerful CJNG in what Nieto described as an opening salvo in the fight to stop criminal gangs from flourishing with impunity.

Speaking of the decision to go after Avelar Gutiérrez, Nieto said: “This is a clear message. The courts are one of the central values, fundamental pillars of the democratic state. That is why if a judge or magistrate betrays that position they must be sanctioned.”

Moreover, the President himself announced he would expose corrupt judges who have colluded with criminals.

He also revealed the government will file complaints against these judges before the Attorney General's Office.

During a morning press conference, he announced he will meet with magistrates from the Supreme Court to discuss these cases and will reveal the information in relation to these corruption cases to the public.

“A judge is a public servant, the President is too, we all have to be responsible for our actions. Then this is going to be solved because this way, we are cleaning (the government). Otherwise, all these would end up forgotten. (…) If we stay silent, we are their accomplices.”


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