Published: Wed, January 16, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Drug trafficker tells of bribe to ex-president of Mexico

Drug trafficker tells of bribe to ex-president of Mexico

After expressing confusion about the details, he acknowledged that he had told prosecutors that he was informed by Guzman that someone named "Comadre Maria" delivered money in Mexico City in October 2012, at a point when Pena Nieto had been elected president but before he took office.

The New York Times reported that Cifuentes said an intermediary paid the bribe to Peña Nieto. Guzman allegedly founded the Sinaloa Cartel, an worldwide money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime network that was established during the mid-1980s, and widely considered one of the world's most powerful illicit drug organizations.

Guzman is on trial in NY on charges that could put him in a US prison for the rest of his life.

Jesus Zambada, another cartel member, testified in November he paid a multimillion dollar bribe to an aide of current Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in 2005.

At the start of the trial, one of Guzman's lawyers, Jeffrey Lichtman indicated that jurors would hear testimony about bribes paid to both Mr Pena Nieto and Mr Calderon, and suggested Guzman was the victim of a conspiracy by government officials and his narco-rivals to destroy him.

Reuters could not immediately reach Pena Nieto for comment.

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Cifuentes first spoke with prosecutors about the bribery allegation when he began cooperating with us authorities in 2016.

When the allegation was first made, Pena Nieto rebuked the claims as "false and defamatory", while his predecessor, who was also accused, condemned the remarks as "absolutely false and reckless".

The prosecution tried to have Lichtman's opening statement thrown out, but Judge Brian Cogan told the jury to take the defendant's words lightly.

It was unclear how Cifuentes' testimony, which appeared to implicate Guzman, could be used to defend him, though Lichtman homed in on inconsistencies in Cifuentes' memory.

The jailbreak humiliated the government and battered the president's already damaged credibility, though Pena Nieto personally announced news of the kingpin's third capture when he was again arrested in northwestern Mexico in January 2016. He also said that it had been a priority since the beginning of Nieto's term as president.

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