By MARK LORENZANA
Two former top-level officials who reported to then Mexico City Governor and now Senator Miguel Ángel Mancera were arrested on Tuesday, Jan. 3, for alleged espionage, according to Ulises Lara, spokesperson for the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office (FGJEM), in a video statement posted on various social media outlets.
Gustavo Alberto Caballero Torres, who was a member of the FGJEM, and Arturo Zavala Munguía, erstwhile director of Mexico City’s Government Secretariat, both served under Mancera’s government from 2012 to 2018, during former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration. They were brought before a judge for the crimes of abusive exercise of functions and espionage. Caballero Torres was also charged with abuse of authority.
Caballero Torres and Zavala Munguía were the latest to be arrested in connection with the so-called Sterling Case, an investigation into a purported illegal spying headquarters, a three-story building located at 15 Manuel Márquez Sterling Street, in downtown Mexico City. Four other people have already been previously arrested and imprisoned as a result of the Sterling Case investigation: another employee of Mexico City’s Government Secretariat, two former police officers and an employee of a cell phone company.
According to Lara, a group of detectives from the FGJEM managed to locate the two former officials — who already had arrest warrants issued against them in connection with the Sterling Case — on the afternoon of Tuesday in the Doctores neighborhood, southwest of the historic center of Mexico City.
“After the suspects were positively identified by our agents, they were informed of the pending arrest warrants against them,” Lara said. “We are looking into their active participation in wiretapping, and active illegal monitoring of cell phone calls, messages and emails of political and sports figures, as well as journalists.”
Among the high-profile “targets” in a list who were allegedly spied on at the Sterling Street building were Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), current Mexico City Governor Claudia Sheinbaum and Mexican Foreign Relations (SRE) Secretary Marcelo Ebrard. Authorities said there were 119 targets in that list.
Mancera, a member of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), was criticized by PRD President Jesús Zambrano in October of last year, after voting — along with fellow PRD Senator Antonio García Conejo — in favor of the initiative to expand the presence of the Mexican Army in the streets.
Mancera’s term as governor of Mexico City has been under intense scrutiny by his successor, Sheinbaum, and various investigations had likewise been initiated by the FGJEM against him. Chief among them was the alleged embezzlement of 1 billion pesos under Mancera’s watch, wherein a probe reportedly uncovered a network of shell companies used to move money around, and even detailed the funneling of funds from public resources.