Mexico frees general linked to drug traffickers

Prosecutors find no evidence to back claims made during Calderón administration

Juan Diego Quesada
Mexico City -
Retired General Tomás Ángeles Dauahare (c) leaving prison on Wednesday.
Retired General Tomás Ángeles Dauahare (c) leaving prison on Wednesday.STR (EFE)

A retired Mexican general who has been in jail on drug trafficking charges since last year was released from custody Wednesday night after a judge found there was no evidence to back up the allegations brought against him by the former government of President Felipe Calderón.

General Tomás Ángeles Dauahare, who served as deputy defense secretary under Calderón, was arrested last May with three other top military officers after prosecutors linked them to organized crime.

The arrests fueled speculation that there was a power struggle within the armed forces, but also raised suspicions that drug traffickers had infiltrated the military’s top echelon.

Along with Ángeles, who served as the army’s second in command until 2008, Brigadier General Roberto Dawe González, retired General Ricardo Escocia Vargas and retired Lt. Colonel Jesús Hernández Soto were also arrested and later indicted for having alleged ties to drug traffickers.

But Wednesday’s decision by the court could also lead to the release of the other three.

Peña Nieto is trying to correct the errors of the past administration”

Ángeles had a lot of influence inside the military, and at one point was being considered by Calderón as a possible defense chief when he came to office in 2006. In 1997, he helped in the arrest of Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, the government’s drug czar who was working with Armando Carrilo Fuentes, known as the “Lord of the Skies,” who transported large quantities of drugs to the United States.

After Calderón appointed Guillermo Galván as his defense chief, Ángeles reportedly had major conflicts with his boss during his tenure as assistant secretary.

Sources have revealed to EL PAÍS that Ángeles also ran into problems with then-public security secretary Genaro García Luna.

After his arrest – which some believed was based on a fabrication of charges – prosecutors announced that Ángeles was protecting drug shipments for the Sinaloa cartel and the Beltrán Leyva brothers. But the attorney general’s office told a Mexican judge overseeing the case that the statements made against Ángeles by a protected witness, who is just known as Jennifer, were false.

Testimony from another witness, Sergio Villareal, a lieutenant for the Beltrán Leyva brothers, was also baseless, prosecutors said in asking the judge to drop the charges. From his jail cell, Ángeles had sent a letter to Calderón, who left office in December, explaining to him that the charges were untrue.

Ricardo Sánchez Reyes, Ángeles’ lawyer, said in an interview that he believed the decision was a political one taken by the new government. “It was based on the fact that [President Enrique] Peña Nieto is trying to correct the errors of the past administration,” he said.

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