The testimony of an alleged former Zetas' plaza boss illustrates how deep the criminal syndicate's networks penetrated Coahuila's government in Mexico, a fact that has done little to impede the political ambitions of the former governor and the party boss implicated in the case.
Multiple news sources, including the Mexico Daily News, say an unnamed former Zetas leader told Mexico's Attorney General's Office that former Coahuila Gov. Humberto Moreira (2005-2011) and ex-head of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional - PRI) received "$2 million per month" to permit the criminal group to sell drugs and contraband alcohol in the state.
"Governor Humberto Moreira allowed us to set up over 400 'tienditas' [dispensaries] to sell drugs and alcohol in Saltillo and its surrounding areas [as well as] 240 in Piedras Negras, 100 in Acuña and 80 in the Cinco Manantiales region," the witness reportedly said, referring to different municipalities in the state. (The news reports cite Reforma as the original source for the story and said the testimony was taken by the Attorney General's Office in September.)
The witness added that the criminal group participated in "roundtables" with business and political leaders where they would trade favors.
"The arrangement was: we protected them and we murdered, kidnapped, stole and extorted people they singled out. In exchange, we had the freedom to carry on with our activities throughout the state," the witness reportedly said.
SEE ALSO: Zetas News and Profile
Those meetings were allegedly facilitated by Juan Manuel Muñoz Luévano, alias "El Mono Muñoz," an alleged criminal operator who was arrested in Spain in March 2016 and charged with money laundering and criminal association. Spain approved Muñoz' extradition to the United States on January 13, reported Proceso, where he faces an indictment for various drug and arms trafficking charges.
In a statement published by El Diario de Coahuila, Moreira denied having any connection to Muñoz Luévano.
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The case is further evidence that while criminal groups may come and go, political corruption seems to live on forever.
Allegations of criminal collusion and widespread corruption by former Zetas have piled up against Moreira, members of his family and his former political allies. But Moreira seems undaunted and had announced in December 2016 that he would run for a congressional seat.
Part of this may be related to the top-level political backing he has received. After Moreira was arrested in Spain in January 2016 on corruption and criminal charges related to his alleged connection to the Zetas, the Mexican government "put their entire diplomatic and legal machine" in motion to free him, according to El Pais.
Moreira was released soon thereafter. The Mexican government later denied it had made any diplomatic or legal push for his release.
SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profile
This latest testimony also gives another dimension to the deep penetration of the Zetas into that state government, which included control of prisons and police. The results were catastrophic on a human level with hundreds of disappeared, and on a fiscal level since the Coahuila government amassed unprecedented debt.