Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán paid a $100 million bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, according to trial testimony provided on Tuesday by Alex Cifuentes Villa, The New York Times reports. Cifuentes, a Colombian drug trafficker, worked with Guzmán for multiple years.
This is not the first time during Guzmán’s ongoing trial that the employee’s former colleagues and employees have revealed alleged links between drug operations in Mexico and officials in government and law enforcement. However, Cifuentes alleged that Guzmán web extended even further than previously thought, entangling the most powerful figure in Mexican politics. “Mr. Guzmán paid a bribe of $100 million to President Peña Nieto?” asked Jeffrey Lichtman, one of Guzmán’s lawyers. Cifuentes simply responded, “yes.”
If this is true, Nieto had company. Testimony at Guzmán’s trial suggested that prison guards, airport officials, police officers, prosecutors, tax assessors and military personnel were all susceptible to bribery, according to The New York Times. Genaro García Luna, who once served as public safety director and was supposed to direct government efforts to bring drug traffickers to justice, is also believed to have accepted cash payments. So is Guillermo González Calderoni, who led Mexico City’s federal police.
Corruption was not confined to Mexico, either. Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía, another Colombian who is said to have worked with Guzman, claimed to have bribed prison guards, border agents, lawyers, policemen, the entire Colombian Congress and former Colombian president Ernesto Samper when he was campaigning for office.
“It’s impossible to be the leader of a drug cartel in Colombia without having corruption,” Ramírez Abadía told the court. “They go hand in hand.”