Witness says Mexican druglord ‘El Chapo’ paid massive bribes to top cop

Mexico's top drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted as he arrives at Long Island MacArthur airport in New York, US, January 19, 2017, after his extradition from Mexico.(Reuters File Photo)
Updated 27 November 2018

Witness says Mexican druglord ‘El Chapo’ paid massive bribes to top cop

  • Witness Miguel Angel Martinez said the Sinaloa cartel paid $10 million in drug money bribes at least twice to Guillermo Gonzalez Calderoni
  • Martinez worked for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in the late 1980s and early 1990s

NEW YORK: Back when business was starting to boom, notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman took delight in seeing massive cocaine shipments arriving by air from Colombia, occasions he code-named “parties” that made him so rich he could pay multimillion dollar bribes to a powerful police commander, a government witness at Guzman’s US trial testified Monday.
Miguel Angel Martinez told the jury that while working for Guzman in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the largest shipment ever seen at that time was carried by a fleet of 10 planes, each hauling hundreds of kilos, that landed one day on a hidden airstrip.
At the time, Guzman “was very happy,” Martinez said. He added Guzman told him, “Compadre, now it’s a great party.”
Martinez, testifying in the trial’s third week, also told the jury that the Sinaloa cartel paid $10 million in drug money bribes at least twice to Guillermo Gonzalez Calderoni, a top law enforcement official in Mexico City. In exchange, Calderoni tipped off the cartel about investigations and offered other protections that helped keep Guzman from getting caught.
Calderoni was known in that era for helping solve the slaying of a Drug Enforcement agent by drug dealers in Mexico in 1985. He also was accused of corruption and torture before slipping out of the country to live in McAllen, Texas, where he was gunned down in a suspected hit in 2003.
Guzman was extradited to the United States last year to face drug-trafficking charges accusing him of running a cartel known for greed and violence. His lawyers say he’s being framed by cooperators like Martinez, whose witness protection status remains unclear.
To show that Martinez actually knew Guzman, prosecutors entered into evidence a photo they said shows him sitting next to Guzman at a social gathering sometime in the early 1990s. The prosecutors had the face of Martinez obscured because they say having images of him go public could put his life in danger.
Last week, another former cartel member who’s pleaded guilty and is behind bars testified that a high-level security chief in Mexico and a second law enforcement official who once worked under the country’s new president-elect took millions of dollars in bribes in the mid-2000s.
Martinez testified that, after washing out as a pilot for Guzman by nearly crashing a plane with his boss aboard, he was made a cartel administrator helping oversee the Colombian shipments and bribery. He said that he and Guzman became so close that Guzman became the godfather of his son.
He described how Guzman was born into poverty in a part of the Sinaloa countryside known for growing marijuana and poppies for heroin. He testified that the future kingpin told him he went into the drug trade because “he didn’t have anything to eat.”


Morocco, Spain to hold talks about overlapping territorial waters

Updated 25 January 2020

Morocco, Spain to hold talks about overlapping territorial waters

  • The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahar
  • The territory has been contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the Spanish colonial period ended in 1975

RABAT: The Moroccan and Spanish foreign ministers said on Friday their countries would hold talks about overlapping areas of ocean that they both claim rights to in the North Atlantic.
The territorial waters Morocco has claimed include the coast off Western Sahara, a territory that has been contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front since the Spanish colonial period ended in 1975.
Morocco’s parliament passed two bills this week to give domestic legal cover to a coastal area the North African country already controls, causing concern in Spain’s Canary Islands, where the government warned of overlaps with Spanish territorial waters.
Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita said that defining territorial waters was a “sovereign right” and that his country aimed to upgrade domestic law in compliance with the UN law of the sea convention.
“In case of overlaps, international law requires states to negotiate,” said Bourita following talks with his Spanish peer, Arancha Gonzalez Laya.
“Morocco rejects unilateral acts and fait accompli,” he said, adding that Spain was a “strategic partner” and Morocco’s largest trading partner.
Gonzalez Laya said Morocco’s willingness to negotiate “reassures the Canary Islands.”
“Morocco is a source of stability for Spain,” she said, citing “close cooperation” in the fight against jihadists and illegal migration.