The powerful Sinaloa Cartel has reportedly infiltrated Mexico's main organized crime investigation unit, illustrating how drug trafficking organizations can influence the Mexican government even at the highest levels.
According to records of an internal investigation obtained by Reforma, the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, allegedly paid employees of the Office of Special Investigations into Organized Crime (SIEDO) of the Attorney General's Office (PGR) in exchange for providing information on planned searches and investigations to the group's lawyers. Members of the Sinaloa Cartel also allegedly obtained the collaboration of employees within the PGR and the Center for Research and National Security (CISEN), including federal attorneys.
The bribery of officials was uncovered after two lawyers for associates of El Chapo were detained earlier this year and chose to collaborate with the PGR. Investigators also discovered that the cartel had considered attacking major government officials, including Defense Secretary Guillermo Galvan, as a way of "lowering the pressure" on regional gangs that work for the Sinaloa Cartel, reports La Jornada.
This investigation, which began in February, is Attorney General Marisela Morales Ibañez's second attempted "purge" of SIEDO, following 2008's "Operation Clean-Up." According to Milenio, seven officials have been detained so far.
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The Sinaloa Cartel is known for its political connections and its supposed preference for bribes over bullets, although its idea of assassinating high-level government officials as a warning to the authorities seems to suggest otherwise.
According to the lawyers turned informants, some of the information obtained through bribery was used to help the cases of three arrested Sinaloa leaders: El Chapo's "security chief," Felipe Cabrera, alias "el Inge;" Noel Salgueiro, "El Flaco," who along with Cabrera headed the Gente Nueva faction in Durango; and Carlos Moreno, alias "La Calentura."
Despite the alarming level of cartel influence uncovered, however, the investigation is at least a sign that Attorney General Marisela Morales is continuing her aggressive anti-corruption campaign. Since coming to office in March 2011, Morales has fired over 1000 employees from the PGR and 1,500 officers from Mexico’s Federal Agency of Investigation (AFI) and evaluated thousands of public prosecutors as part of her plan to weed out corruption from the federal security services.