Army General Denounces Rampant Organized Crime in Mexico
Mexico's battle with the drug lords is looking much like the U.S.'s war in Iraq two years ago – lots of good ideas being roundly ignored.
A Mexican Army general who has been methodically trashing the power structure of northwestern Mexico for the last two years is now raising hell in Baja California. But recent history shows that he’s denounced public officials in Mexican states before – and always to no avail.
The situation is looking an awful lot like the U.S. Army generals who denounced Pres. Bush’s adventures in Iraq – lots of big, experienced names shaking their heads in disapproval, all being ignored by the policy wonks.
Which is a kind of policy in itself.
In fact, Gen. Sergio Aponte Polito has now famously trashed the power structure of three of the four most lucrative narco-trafficking states leading into the United States, Sinaloa, Sonora and Baja California; and nothing has ever come of it.
Now I’m wondering what his real purpose is.
Since 2005, Aponte has very, very publicly denounced the state, local and federal government representatives in Sinaloa, Sonora, and now, Baja California.
While American and Mexican media are giving him massive props for his astonishing accusations of corruption in Baja California’s government, I’m curious to know whether we’re watching a general on a crusade or a political powerplay coming out of Mexico City.
If you notice, nobody in Mexico City has stepped up to back the guy – though nobody has tried to slow him down, either. So is Gen. Aponte Polito following a script from his bosses or is he going it alone?
And why, if his allegations are true, are they being ignored?
Last week, the revered general published a letter in La Cronica, the Mexicali paper, trashing more than 35 state and local officials as corrupted employees of a drug cartel.
Among his accusations:
That agents of Tijuana’s anti-kidnapping squad participated in kidnappings itself.
That a state police officer approached his infantry commander in Tecate with an offer to secure a pact with local crime leaders in order to gain public security control of the city.
In yet another angry paragraph, he went after the Mexican Federal Attorney General’s Office, saying that he’s received information that local Feds were receiving $4,000 to $5,000 a month to let the cocaine cartel, the Arellano Felix family, cruise drugs on through to the U.S.
“What kind of confidence can be had of certain public functionaries?” he asks in his letter.
“How many officials are connected to these criminal organizations?”
The general’s accusations are only the latest in a string of very, very public accusations.
Last January, he went after the state of Sonora shortly after Alfredo Beltrán Leyva was arrested in Culiacán. I find it … interesting … that he waited until after the top kingpin goes down before he slammmed the state of Sonora.
“These are criminal gangs that have been working for years and they were only able to grow and fortify themselves because they count on the complicity of the authorities,” he said.
And the year before that, Sinaloa, telling the PAN governor that corruption in his state prosecutor’s office is not being attacked.
Now, I have no doubt, in fact, in many cases, I have very conclusive proof, of state officials tied to the country’s top narco-traffickers.
This may be a new Mexico, but the patronage system is as heavy as it ever was. Maybe we should call it the “patrón system.”
You’ve got state police commanders working for the Sinaloans in Sonora. PRI mayors taking bribes, federal officials in cahoots with the Gulf Cartel to the east, the Arellanos to the west. Federal employees selling landing strips in wildlife refuges, you name it.
Political corruption has seeped so deeply into the country that it’s nearly inextricable, a cancer virus so profound, you’d kill off the healthy cells if you tried to remove it.
So, yeah; the general’s letter offers no real surprises.
But what’s the motive? In 2005, Gen. Aponte Polito was attacking the Sinaloa government when Pres. Vicente Fox’s Secure Mexico plan was first being implemented. If you notice, from the linked opinion piece by columnist Carlos Ramirez, Aponte was yanked out of Sinaloa shortly after he trashed the state government and placed in Quintana Roo.
The general kept up the attacks against the governor of Sinaloa but nothing was ever done. In fact, by early 2007, thousands of Mexican troops who’d been sent into Sinaloa were quietly withdrawn. Many accusations and most, I have no doubt, completely true.
But it’s like an inept babysitter threatening to tell mom and dad. Nobody’s listening. More secrets.
The last time we all watched a general go so public, it nearly ended disastrously for Mexico. Gen. Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo was crushing the Arellano Felix cartel to the joy of the Americans. But as it turned out, he was merely doing the bidding of top narco, Amado Carrillo Fuentes.
Gen. Aponte Polito has tossed the dice, but he’s tossed them before and absolutely nothing came of it. So call me a cynic, but I’ll withhold my cheering until the Feds fly in to see what his ruckus is all about.
Tags: Organized Crime , Mexico , Border , Cocaine Cartel , Iraq War
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