The court case against Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán taking place in Brooklyn is uncovering not only the depth of the crimes carried out by the Sinaloa cartel leader but also the political corruption involved in protecting him. That corruption reached the highest levels of Mexican government, and now current Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been implicated in corruption allegations.
According to Vice News, a court filing unsealed on Wednesday evening by U.S. federal prosecutors includes information about an alleged bribe paid to López Obrador by the younger brother of Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. Zambada is a Sinaloa cartel leader who is still operating in Mexico. The bribe was reportedly made to an unnamed person who worked on Obrador’s failed 2006 campaign.
These documents follow corruption allegations made against former Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. El Chapo's former "right-hand man" Alex Cifuentes described the alleged deal during a cross examination in court on Tuesday, where his associate paid Nieto $100 million. The payment followed Nieto asking for $250 million from Chapo in October 2012, several months after Nieto was elected and about two months before he was sworn in.
Obrador took over the presidential position from Nieto on Dec. 1. The bribery to Obrador was allegedly carried out by Jesus Reynaldo Zambada Garcia aka El Rey, a Sinaloa cartel member who actually already testified at trial in November. Obrador is the third Mexican president linked to the Sinaloa cartel leader, following Nieto and Felipe Calderón.
The government attempted to block testimonies about the high-level political corruption, according to Vice, but Judge Brian Cogan denied the request following testimony from Cifuentes and ordered the documents to be unsealed.