Photo: Deutsche Welle

By MARK LORENZANA

Anabel Hernández, a Mexican investigative journalist with Germany’s esteemed state-run news agency Deutsche Welle, said in her weekly column on Friday, June 3, that officials from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) had made an “electoral narco-pact” with members of the Sinaloa Drug Cartel leading up to the June 5 gubernatorial elections.

According to Hernández, who is best known for her coverage of drug trafficking in Mexico and who was the recipient of the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom Award, the party made the agreement with Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, alias “El Chapito,” son of notorious drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera, who is currently serving out a life sentence in the United States for a number of drug-related crimes.

In her “Countercurrent” column, Hernández explained that Guzmán Salazar, along with his brothers Ovidio Guzmán López, Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar and Joaquín Guzmán López, are collectively known as “Los Chapitos” (Little Chapos). The brothers and their uncles, Aureliano Guzmán Loera, alias “El Guano,” and Miguel Ángel Guzmán Loera, alias “El Mudo,” are believed to command one of the factions of the Sinaloa Cartel, also known as the Guzmán-Loera Organization.

The cartel is currently headed by Ismael  “El Mayo” Zambada García and is based in the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa, a state in northwestern Mexico.

In her column, Hernández stated that the purpose of the “electoral narco-pact,” which she claimed had the blessing of Zambada García, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, was for Los Chapitos and their uncles to help Rubén Rocha Moya, current governor of Sinaloa, win the gubernatorial elections on June 6, 2021, as well as to support other Morena candidates, who were running for various positions.

Hernández said that direct sources “who know of the facts firsthand,” López Obrador was neither unaware of nor disapproved of the pact.

She added that this allegation had been corroborated by people who within AMLO’s closest political circles.

Hernández wrote that for the family of El Chapo to be able to operate in the elections, key meetings had been held with members of Morena. In at least some of those meetings, she said, were with Iván Archivaldo, who is considered the leader of Los Chapitos. These meetings were allegedly held in Culiacán, where AMLO has visited several times during his presidency.

At least one of those meetings were with El Guano and El Mudo, she said,allegedly held in La Tuna, Badiraguato, at the house of Consuelo Loera, the mother of El Chapo, who AMLO personally greeted in Badiraguato, Sinaloa, in 2020, at the height of the covid-19 pandemic.

Hernández went on to say that Los Chapitos and their uncles decided to help Morena on the condition that persecution and all arrest warrants for extradition purposes against their group be stopped.

A year after the alleged pact was made, Hernández noted that AMLO has publicly requested that the “Golden Triangle” — a region made up of Sinaloa and the adjoining states of Chihuahua and Durango, known as a stronghold of the Sinaloa Cartel and one of the most violent in the nation — be known instead as the “Triangle of Good and Hardworking People.”

In her column, Hernández said that her sources, who she said have solid information and evidence of the purported narco-pact, were sure that — like in the elections on June 2021, which is seen as a “successful model” —  Los Chapitos and their group once again had a hand in this year’s recently concluded gubernatorial elections, held in the states of ​​Aguascalientes, Durango, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and Tamaulipas.

Morena, along with its allied parties, won four of the six governorships on the ballot — Tamaulipas, Quintana Roo, Oaxaca and Hidalgo —  further consolidating its power and giving AMLO’s party control of 22 of Mexico’s 32 states, an important advantage heading into the 2024 presidential elections.

Despite the absence of major reports of violence throughout the elections, however, there have been at least 59 complaints filed with the Electoral Crimes Prosecutor’s Office (Fisel).

Hernández said that one of the alleged meetings headed by Iván Guzmán was held in Culiacán, in the first months of 2021, with Ricardo Peralta, who was undersecretary of the Interior for the AMLO government until 2020. In another alleged meeting, also held in Culiacán, El Chapito, with a gun at his waist and protected by a large group of armed people, gave instructions to record and broadcast videos through social media platforms to support the candidacy of Rubén Rocha Moya, she said.

The videos were recorded by members of famous musical groups who are known for singing narcocorridos, with lyrics that focus on and romanticize drug smugglers, and which tend to speak approvingly of illegal activities, mainly drug trafficking. At that meeting, Iván Guzmán’s people allegedly received promotional T-shirts from the Rocha Moya campaign.

Citlalli Hernández, secretary general of Morena, on Sunday, June 5, dismissed the accusations by Hernández as “gossip without proof.”

It cannot be denied, however, that accusations against Morena and AMLO about their alleged ties to organized crime groups have continued to increase. Porfirio Muñoz Ledo — a former Mexican ambassador to the United Nations, founding member of the left-leading Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), and current ambassador to Cuba — said Thursday, June 2, that the AMLO administration is in bed with the country’s drug cartels.

During his participation in the plenary session of the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (Coppal), Muñoz Ledo said bluntly that López Obrador is using his ties with organized crime to increase his political power and to boost federal resources.

“I call out the president with the following pragmatic argument: He is going to finish his term soon (his time is already running out), and he thinks that he can peddle his association with criminals to the next government, giving him even greater power,” Muñoz Ledo said.

Just prior to Muñoz Ledo’s speech, former Energy Secretary Francisco Labastida, who served under the administration of Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid, told a reporter that there “are strong indications, although not solid proof, that the federal government is protecting the Sinaloa Cartel.”

Labastida likewise pointed to the fact that during his three-and-a-half-year presidency, López Obrador has made at least four visits to Badiraguato, the cradle of Sinaloa Cartel, despite the fact that the town has only 5,000 inhabitants.

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