HomeNewsAnalysisCases Against Mexico's Fmr General, Ex-Prosecutor Unravel
ANALYSIS

Cases Against Mexico's Fmr General, Ex-Prosecutor Unravel

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 17 APR 2013 BY DUDLEY ALTHAUS EN

Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo has dropped corruption charges against Tomas Angeles, a retired army general and deputy defense minister, just the latest of the premier anti-corruption prosecutions pushed by former President Felipe Calderon to collapse, illustrating the continued fragility of the judicial system.

Mexico City's El Universal newspaper reported that federal prosecutors were likely to drop the charges against Angeles in the wake of a court ruling earlier this week throwing out the charges against a former chief of the attorney general's anti-organized crime unit, Noe Ramirez Mandujano. Murillo made it official April 17. A judge later released the former general. 

A federal judge ruled that evidence of connivance with the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) against Ramirez presented by a protected witness, code-named "Jennifer," was fabricated. Ramirez had been arrested in 2008, along with two dozen other officials from the anti-crime unit, in a much ballyhooed operation dubbed "Operation Cleanup."

Testimony from "Jennifer," actually a male protected witness, also was key in the case against Angeles, two other generals and several lower ranking officers arrested in May 2012 on charges of aiding the BLO.

Some observers at the time suggested Angeles' arrest was a consequence of infighting within the army high command surrounding the naming of a new defense secretary that would follow last year's presidential elections.

President Enrique Peña Nieto on Tuesday signaled his government's willingness to not pursue the corruption cases, saying the unraveled case against Ramirez reflected deep deficiencies in the country's justice apparatus.

"I believe all these cases give a very clear lesson," Peña said at a Tuesday forum on anti-crime efforts. "What we have to do is train, prepare the prosecutors offices, the prosecutors, the police investigators in gathering evidence and in scientific investigation that gives the proper and sufficient support to back up any accusation."

InSight Crime Analysis

The dropping of the corruption cases marks an embarrassing rebuke of the six-year Washington-backed efforts by Calderon's administration to reform the justice system, clean up corruption and fight organized crime. Indeed, the training of federal police and prosecutors was a key target of the $1.6 billion in US aid to Mexico under the Merida Initiative.

The cases against Noe Ramirez and a series of military officials appeared to underscore some advances. And, in many ways, the destruction of the BLO was a hallmark of the Calderon government. The BLO fragmented after the December 2009 killing of kingpin Arturo Beltran by US backed Mexican marines and appeared to be reeling. But the group has since rebounded, with the help from some formidable allies, the Zetas. Arturo's brother, Hector, now controls the remnants of the gang, which still has a strong presence along the Pacific Coast and the outskirts of Mexico City.

While no one doubts that the gangsters' connections with officials have nurtured their survival, the cases also underscored just how brittle Mexico's justice system actually is. Calderon learned that lesson when he decided to take on the gangs: civilian security forces proved woefully unprepared, soldiers poor policemen, prosecutors and judges inadequate guardians of justice. Six years on, and that goal of professionalizing police and prosecutors remains a goal rather than a reality.

Peña has expressed support for continued cooperation with Washington under the auspices of Merida. But changes in the programs focus are likely and indeed were called for this week by Mexican foreign minister Jose Antonio Meade.

However, Peña's larger anti-crime strategy remains undefined. He has said it would be unfair to judge its effectiveness before the year is out. But the tattered cases against Ramirez and the generals -- regardless of whether they had any merit or not -- hint at just how steep a hill Peña, his security team, and US planners will be treading.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CONTRABAND / 30 APR 2021

A series of operations carried out by the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office against networks dedicated to trafficking Mexican poultry, shed…

HUMAN RIGHTS / 17 JAN 2022

Reported kidnappings have decreased significantly in Mexico, but in recent years, at least one out of every 10 kidnapping victims…

ELITES AND CRIME / 26 MAY 2021

A corruption investigation revealed earlier this week offers a rare chance for Mexico to confront long-rumored bribery between the highest…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…