Drug kingpin Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman once paid Mexico’s former president Enrique Pena Nieto a US$100 million bribe, the New York Court heard at the start of this week.
On the stand and testifying as a witness against his former employer, is Alex Cifuentes, who is believed to have closely worked alongside the Sinaloa Cartel during the height of their trafficking power. According to the statements made on Tuesday, one of El Chapo’s defence lawyers asked Cifuentes, ‘‘did Guzman pay a $100 million bribe to Pena Nieto?’’ and he confidently replied with a ‘‘yes.’’
In the last two months the high-profile trial, where El Chapo is currently accused of 11 counts of drugs trafficking, money and weapons laundering, has led to a plethora of explosive revelations that implicate a number of prominent Mexicans. As well as involving at least two former Mexican presidents, the scope of the Sinaloa Cartel’s influence around the world has constantly been depicted by a number of important witnesses. The extent of El Chapo’s control is still yet to be fully understood.
The twice-escaped narcotics leader has since sat through testimonies from a Colombian drug trafficker who used plastic surgery to conceal his identity, the son of his alleged business partner Zambada and even the I.T technician who claims to have installed spyware on up to 50 of El Chapo’s associates.
The extravagance of his lifestyle has been painted through claims of countless properties among stories of using submarine-like vessels to transport goods, and the violence of the drugs trade was accentuated through tales of torture and signing off killings throughout his tenure. Just recently his wife was also forced to sit through a testimony where messages with his alleged mistress were also read out to the court.
The most recent exposure of El Chapo’s dealings with former President Pena Nieto are believed to link back to October 2012, when the bribe was delivered by a woman known as ‘Comadre Maria.’
It is not, however, the first time that El Chapo’s lawyers have attempted to point fingers at the former president. In the first weeks of the trial, Guzman’s lawyers were prevented from detailing a payment made to a president by Judge Brian Cogan on the basis that some individuals not involved with this case would face embarrassment, according to The Guardian.
No official statement has been made by Pena Nieto or his representatives in response to the most recent allegations. It is also unclear what the alleged payment was used to gain, if the statement was proved to be true.
El Chapo became the most notorious drug leader in the country and one of the most wanted people worldwide after assuming the position of cartel leader in 1989. Guzman was caught and imprisoned in 2014 before several prison escapes and eventual extradition to the United States. El Chapo has since remained in custody in the United States yet has pleaded not guilty to a number of charges that have been brought against him. If Guzman is found guilty, the drug kingpin can expect a life sentence for his time as Mexico’s largest drug cartel leader.