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CAB008 / Mexico / SENIOR POLICE FIRED FOR STEALING COCAINE, INVESTIGATIONS UNDERWAY

SUBJECT: SENIOR POLICE FIRED FOR STEALING COCAINE, INVESTIGATIONS UNDERWAY

Summary
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¶1. (S) On August 7 President Ruiz-Peña ordered the firing of four senior police officers after they were implicated in a partially successful police heist of more than 1000 kilograms of cocaine.  The Attorney General’s Office is now investigating at least 23 police officers.  Successors were immediately named to fill the four police vacancies.  This incident has put the police on notice that, thanks to the new, USG-supported wire tapping unit at the AG’s Office, there are new risks associated with doing business as usual.  End Summary.

Top Police Fired, Under Investigation
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¶2.  (U) On August 7 President Ruiz-Peña fired four top National Civilian Police (PNC) officers implicated in the August 6 attempted theft of more 1000 kilograms of cocaine in a northern part of Ciudad Juárez (ref a).  The fired officers are:
– Director General (the country’s top police officer) Carlos Aguilar, already under investigation for the theft in June of $300,000 from a crime scene;
– Deputy Director General Joaquin Castaños, previously accused of coercion;
– Deputy Director of Operations Miguel Ybarra, previously accused of fraud; and
– Deputy Director of Investigations Angelito Vallejo, previously accused of abuse of authority and disobedience.

¶3.  (C) All four were present at the scene of the August 6 incident, according to press.  Aguilar told reporters on August 6 that only 300 kilograms of cocaine had been seized.  (Note: The Attorney General told the Ambassador he suspected that more than 1600 kilograms had been on the truck, some of which police had already removed and hidden when investigators arrived.  Eight hundred and eighty-one kilograms were in fact seized.)  Additionally, former Deputy Director of the Division for Criminal Investigations (DINC) Luis Baptista is a fugitive from justice.  Telephone intercepts implicate Baptista as having organized the heist.  In all, at least 23 police officers who were identified at the crime scene are now under investigation.

¶4.  (S) Attorney General Rafael Pintado told the Ambassador August 10 that telephone intercepts indicated that the police had removed at least 300 kilograms to a house near where the truck was found, but said they did not have legal authority to search all the houses in the area.  Both anticipated that some of the implicated policewould soon be murdered as the unidentified owners of the stolen cocaine attempted to recover it.  Pintado said there was essentially no doubt as to the senior police officers’ culpability.  The telephone intercepts and GPS records taken from their vehicles were incriminating.  The officers’ written statements all contradicted each other, and Vallejo’s statement had been written by a lawyer.

AG Seeks USG Political Cover
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¶5.  (S) Pintado sought the Ambassador’s support for this unprecedented operation to uncover police corruption and complicity in narcotics trafficking.  The intelligence for the operation was generated by the USG-supported Special Methods Unit, which is the AG’s wire-tapping office.  They said they hoped to ultimately prosecute some 50 police officers for this crime, but said they were worried because they “do not know how high up this goes.”  Based on the existing North American Joint Security Agreement (NAJSA), the Ambassador agreed to reaffirm USG support for the operation during his next conversation with President Ruiz-Peña.

Comment
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¶6.  (C) We are encouraged by the AG Office’s actions in this case, and by the prospect of senior officers facing criminal prosecution — as opposed to just administrative discipline — for criminal wrongdoing.  However, we anticipate that the fired police officers will prove formidable adversaries with substantial capacity for manipulating the judiciary, and maybe the government as well.  Embassy will remain in close contact with the AG Office about how this investigation is developing.

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