By KELIN DILLON
After selling off a number of luxury vehicles seized from the hacker organization the Bandidos Revolutions Team in 2019, Mexico’s National Institute to Return the Stolen to the People (Indep) is now facing lawsuits for auctioning off the cars – most of which were made by high-end manufacturers such as Ferrari, McLaren, Lamborghini and Mercedes-Benz – without a first obtaining a legal sentence of confiscation, extinction of ownership or declaration of abandonment for the vehicles in question.
Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (FGR) originally seized 27 vehicles from the Bandidos Revolutions Team after the hacker organization was accused of stealing an estimated 300 million pesos from banks across Mexico and following the arrest of the group’s leader, Héctor Ortiz Solares, in May 2019.
The seizure prompted the Sotecami Intermediary company – who claims to have signed the consignment contracts for some of the vehicles’ original sale – to file a judicial petition to request the return of 11 of the 27 cars in question.
However, the Indep still went to sell seven of the Sotecami Intermediary’s claimed vehicles in an auction held in December 2019 without the required legal permits, earning 28.6 million pesos from the sale, which were later distributed to people in Querétaro, Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, the State of Mexico (Edoméx) and Guanajuato.
According to Intermediary Sotecami, the company was never made aware of the Indep auction until nine months after the fact, and after an initial filed complaint was rejected by the Specialized Prosecutor for Organized Crime (FEMDO), Intermediary Sotecami filed an amparo in an attempt to recover its missing property, which theoretically prevents the vehicles in question from being sold off or transferred until the case has been legally resolved.
Now, as FEMDO head Alfredo Higuera Bernal asks the Mexican Special Prosecutor for Internal Affairs to investigate any wrongdoing on behalf of federal prosecutors in relation to the auctioned vehicles, a federal judge has opened a file of judicial contempt against members of the FGR involved in the case – including Higuera himself.