Sinaloa drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman paid a $100 million bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2012, according to testimony given in a New York federal court on Tuesday.
The testimony was given by Colombian drug lord Alex Cifuentes Villa, who said that Peña Nieto first contacted Guzman "about the time he was elected president in late 2012, asking the drug lord for $250 million in exchange for calling off a nationwide manhunt for him," The New York Times reported.
"Mr. Guzman paid a bribe of $100 million to President Peña Nieto?" Guzman attorney Jeffrey Lichtman asked Cifuentes during cross-examination.
"Yes," Cifuentes answered.
Cifuentes claimed that Guzman responded to Nieto's offer by making a $100 million counteroffer.
"The message was that Mr. Guzmán didn’t have to stay in hiding?" Lichtman asked.
"Yes," Cifuentes responded, adding: "that very thing is what Joaquin said to me."
Cifuentes admitted to multiple crimes in court, including being involved in a murder plot in Canada, buying explosives from drug traffickers, paying off a judge in Ecuador, and kidnapping an official.
Cifuentes testified that Guzman paid off multiple Mexican officials and, on at least two occasions, "gave the Mexican military between $10 million and $12 million to launch operations to 'either kill or capture' associates of the Beltrán-Leyva brothers during his war with them."
The Times also notes that Cifuentes testified that Mexican police not only allowed the cartel to traffic narcotics but that they also participated in trafficking, selling the drugs themselves.
Nieto's ties to Mexican drug cartels have been known for years, as he has been previously linked to the cartels.
An investigation released in 2016 revealed that "a series of shell companies had been used by members of the Juarez cartel to funnel funds into Peña Nieto’s 2012 election," Breitbart's Border and Cartel team reported. "The investigation was carried out by Mexican award winning journalist Carmen Aristegui and her team; the subsequent scandal became known as Monexgate for the cash cards that were given out during Peña Nieto’s campaign."
"In addition to receiving funds from cartel operatives, Peña Nieto’s campaign was run by another politician who has been singled out in international court hearings as a surrogate for Los Zetas," Journalists Ildefonso Ortiz and Brandon Darby continued in their report. "Under Peña Nieto, Mexican cartels only grew in power as his government appear[ed] to be unable or unwilling to stop the cartel violence," adding, "key cartel figures have been suspiciously released from prison while his government officials claim[ed] to be improving security conditions."
The Sinaloa Cartel, which Guzman ran, is the most prolific drug trafficking organization in the world and controls the overwhelming majority of the drug trade in the United States.
The Drug Enforcement Administration stated in its 2018 Threat Assessment that Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) "remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States; no other group is currently positioned to challenge them."
The DEA also noted that its investigations have revealed that the Sinaloa cartel, along with Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion’s (CJNG), "are likely the primary groups trafficking fentanyl into the United States via the SWB."