Mexicans React To Bombshell Claim Peña Nieto Accepted 'El Chapo' Bribe

Cheryl Sanders
January 18, 2019

A former close aide to drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has testified that Mexico's ex-President Enrique Peña Nieto had once accepted a bribe to the tune of United States dollars 100 million from the suspected drug lord in October 2012.

Alex Cifuentes, a Colombian drug trafficker who describes himself as Guzman's former "right-hand, left-hand man", claimed that Pena Nieto initially asked for $250 million, and Guzman later boasted about paying him $100 million in October 2012, when he was still president-elect, Reuters reports.

Pena Nieto at the time called the claim "completely false and defamatory".

Reuters could not immediately reach Pena Nieto or his former spokesman for comment.

Pena Nieto served as the president of Mexico from 2012 until 2018. A witness told a New York City courtroom this week that Nieto accepted a $100 million bribe from Guzman.

When the Chapo trial began in November, Lichtman argued that Guzman was the scapegoat of corrupt Mexican governments, turncoat colleagues and the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Lichtman, one of Guzman's lawyers, accused Mexican officials, including Pena Nieto, in November of agreeing to bribes in order to protect Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, another notorious drug gang trafficker. He was arrested in 2013 and turned against his boss when he pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in a deal with USA prosecutors.

US District Judge Brian Cogan, however, refused to allow Guzman's lawyers to question Zambada's brother about the alleged bribes previous year.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (C) congratulates Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda (R) and Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong (L) after his speech about the recapture of drug baron Joaquin Guzman Loera, at the National Palace in Mexico City on January 8, 2016.

Captured by Pena Nieto's government in February 2014, Guzman broke out of prison for a second time some 17 months later, escaping through a mile-long tunnel dug right into in his cell. The allegation came as the Colombian drug lord Alex Cifuentes Villa took the witness stand in a federal district court in Brooklyn. The witness said the bribe was never paid and Guzman subsequently ordered the associate killed, though the hit was never carried out.

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