The arrest of a former employee of Mexico's Supreme Court and Attorney General’s Office suspected of working with the Sinaloa Cartel raises the question of how much -- and what kind -- of intelligence he may have fed to the criminal group.
Supreme Court clerk Juan Carlos de la Barrera Vite was arrested in June and transferred to a maximum security prison in Jalisco state on August 14.
He is accused of selling the testimony of former Sinaloa Cartel and Beltran Leyva Organization operatives, who became protected witnesses for the government, for up to $60,000. De la Barrera reportedly sold the information to Felipe Cabrera Sarabia, alias “El Inge,” considered one of the top operatives for Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. El Inge was arrested in December and is currently in custody.
De la Barrera primarily worked in the office of Supreme Court Justice Sergio Valls Hernandez, reports Reforma. Between June and November 2010 he worked briefly for the PGR’s organized crime division, and then returned to the division's anti-narcotics unit between June and November 2011. He also worked for the Attorney General’s Office (known by its Spanish initials the PGR) at one point in his nearly 10-year career.
Both the PGR and the Supreme Court have denied that any information from their offices was “compromised” by de la Barrera’s alleged actions. The Supreme Court has emphasized that de la Barrera primarily carried out “administrative” work for the body.
InSight Crime Analysis
De la Barrera is accused of passing along the testimony of Sergio Enrique Villarreal, alias “El Grande,” a former police officer who became a lieutenant for the Beltran Leyva Organization. He was arrested in Mexico in September 2010, and extradited to the US in May 2012. If he became a witness during that time, it would have coincided with de la Barrera working at the PGR’s organized crime division.
De la Barrera was also working at the PRG when authorities arrested another Sinaloa Cartel operative, Hector Adan Ruvalcaba Rivera, alias “La Calentura," in September 2011. De la Barrera is charged of selling La Calentura’s testimony to the Sinaloa Cartel.
It makes sense that the Sinaloa Cartel would be willing to pay significant money for the testimony of protected witnesses, as this would allow them to better gauge what kind of intelligence was accessible to the government. This helps to explain why different judicial functionaries -- from clerks like de la Barrera to magistrates and judges -- come under pressure from organized crime.