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Witness testifies cartel paid off top gov official during federal trial of alleged Los Zetas leader

July 7, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Witness testifies cartel paid off top gov official during federal trial of alleged Los Zetas leader

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A Los Zetas financial operator testified on the stand that the cartel paid off head government officials in the in the Mexican border state, Coahuila, in return for assistance from law enforcement.

The San Antonio Express reported that 41-year-old Rodrigo Humberto Uribe Tapia admitted to jurors during the federal trial an alleged top figure of the ruthless Los Zetas drug cartel on Wednesday that he met with the personal aid of former governor of Coahuila, Humberto Moreira, on two occasions.

He added that the purpose of these meetings was to provide the personal aide, who is identified Vicente Chaires Yañez, with about $2 million in U.S. dollars for him to pass onto the governor.

Uribe said: “It was done through Mr. Vicente Chaires and (former state attorney general) Jesus Torres Charles, and what they did is, several payments were made in Saltillo … It was some kind of agreement with Governor Humberto.”

The former governor’s Texas-based attorney asserted that the accusations are not accurate. The lawyer, Kent Schaffer said in a statement, “That’s what criminals often do. Governor Moreira has no connections to the Zetas. That is pure fantasy.”

The assertions were made throughout the trial of Marciano Millan Vasquez, who prosecutors affirm was a Piedras Negras-based Zetas leader. Vasquez was allegedly responsible for transporting massive amounts of drugs across the U.S. border and is behind the extensive killings that have occurred in the Northern Mexican region.

Uribe said the purpose of the bribes were to ensure the Zetas received protection as they continued their Coahuila takeover, which is just across the Texas border. He also claimed that Mexican state police helped Zetas’ members to avoid federal officials, allowed the cartel to invest in coal mining and construction, as well as permitted them to take over state jails where the cartel continued to commit heinous atrocities.

Millan Vasquez’s lawyer, Jaime Cavazos, announced to the court that Vasquez was falsely accused of drug trafficking and escaped to the U.S. He further noted that prosecutors wouldn’t be able to display any physical evidence linking Millan Vasquez to the crimes that he is being accused of committing.

However, prosecutors ensured the court that they would provide evidence that the Zetas are responsible for the significant number of kidnappings and murders in Mexico.

Alternatively, the United States is currently investigating claims that Moreira and other state officials laundered millions of dollars into the San Antonio area.

Law enforcement officials have seized a house belonging to Moreira’s mother-in-law, and authorities have reported that over six people have been charged as part of the scheme, although none of the indicted currently includes Moreira, he is linked to a money laundering case in Spain.

The indictment accuses Millan Vazquez of taking part in the slayings of hundreds of prisoners Piedras Negras between 2009 and 2015 and ordering the construction of ovens to burn the bodies of the victims.

AAccording to TeleSur, assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Leachman wrote in one court document, Millan Vasquez and other Zetas leaders “gave orders to kill persons in the course of the conspiracy … and … the defendant himself shot, dismembered and burned bodies in furtherance of the conspiracy.”

Reports by Mexican and international media outlets have reported on the case which involves the disappearance of an estimated 400 people referred to as the “Coahuila Ovens” case.

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