LATIN AMERICA

Video links politicians to the Mexican narcotics trade

A recording shows the son of a former Michoacán governor meeting with drug boss La Tuta

An image from the video showing Vallejo Mora with La Tuta (right).
An image from the video showing Vallejo Mora with La Tuta (right).

In January, while the former governor of Michoacán, Fausto Vallejo Figueroa, was signing an agreement with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to combat organized crime in the state, his son was negotiating with the leader of the Knights Templar. A video published by Mexican news agency Quadratín shows Rodrigo Vallejo in conversation with Servando “La Tuta” Gómez Martínez at a small roadside restaurant.

Besides La Tuta and Vallejo, there were at least two other people present at the meeting: a woman sitting with her back to the camera and the individual responsible for shooting the video. The atmosphere is relaxed and, as Quadratín noted, the meeting was meant to review the government’s situation and find new communication channels and working patterns given the crisis caused by the governor’s repeated instances of sick leave. Vallejo Figueroa always declined to specify the illness from which he was suffering. He resigned on June 18 for health reasons, a few days after a photograph showing Rodrigo with La Tuta was published. He then went on local television to defend his son, saying that Rodrigo – like many others – had been forced into meeting with the drug boss. The video released on Monday, however, shows a relaxed Rodrigo who calls Servando Gómez a “pimp” as he sips from a can of beer.

The 18-minute recording shows Vallejo telling La Tuta that his father would need several organ transplants. “They are going to do pancreatic, liver and intestinal transplants. So, that’s five things. It’s a multivisceral transplantation.”

Then La Tuta says that a federal Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) deputy spoke to him about taking over as interim governor in Michoacán and that National Action Party (PAN) Senator Luisa María Calderón Hinojosa – the current president of the political coordination committee in San Lázaro – and Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD) member Silvano Aureoles Conejo were working against him. Calderón Hinojosa once served as governor of Michoacán and is the sister of former president Felipe Calderón (2006-2012). She said the video is proof that Rodrigo Vallejo has ties to Servando Gómez and that Fausto was co-governing with La Tuta through his son. “The criminals’ relationship with the government increased their power, control, violence and dominance over the economy and life in Michoacán. They hurt the people of Michoacán.” The Senator made similar allegations in November 2013.PRD leaders have asked officials to detain Rodrigo Vallejo. “This is proof that Rodrigo Vallejo Mora was not only meeting with Servando ‘La Tuta’ Gómez Martínez but that he was also accepting favors from the crime boss,” PRD said in a statement. “And he even promised to put government resources at his disposition. The national government must find and arrest Fausto Vallejo’s son so that he might reveal all the agreements and deals he made.”

The government must find and arrest Fausto Vallejo’s son so that he might reveal all the deals he made”

The government has arrested other political figures who were captured on tape with La Tuta. Former interim governor Jesús Reyna García was second in command in Vallejo’s administration and was arrested in April. Authorities also detained Mayor Lázaro Cárdenas, Arquímedes Oseguera and José Trinidad Martínez Pasalagua, former deputy and transport secretary for Michoacán.

When civilians took up arms and began forming self-defense groups, one of their main concerns was the link between the regional government and organized crime. In January, the federal government began an operation to dismantle the organizations in the area. Following the death of Knights Templar founder Nazario “El Chayo” Moreno and Enrique Plancarte, Gómez Martínez is the highest-ranking member of the cartel.

La Tuta remains at large.  

Translation: Dyane Jean François

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