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Cablegate: Calderon Continues Anti-Corruption Sweep

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180111
2008-11-25 22:24:00
08MEXICO3498
Embassy Mexico
CONFIDENTIAL
08MEXICO2371|08MEXICO3321
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TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM SNAR KCRM MX
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 003498

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM SNAR KCRM MX
SUBJECT: CALDERON CONTINUES ANTI-CORRUPTION SWEEP
REF: A. MEXICO 2371
B. MEXICO 3321

Classified By: Deputy Political Counselor James Merz.
Reason: 1.4 (b), (d).

1. (C) Summary. The Calderon administration's
anti-corruption initiative Operation Cleanup most recently
produced the arrest of the head of Interpol in Mexico and a
former Deputy Attorney General/anti-drug czar. While the
revelations of narco-infiltration into the upper echelons of
law enforcement community have given rise to alarm in public
circles, they also help Calderon burnish his credentials as a
leader committed to combating organized crime and corruption
-- an effect that may come more into view over the longer
term. The only real loser may be Secretary of Public
Security Genaro Garcia Luna, who will have to work hard to
overcome the perception that he is either oblivious to what
goes on around him or tolerates his subordinates' activities.
End Summary.

Operation Cleanup: Cleaning House
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) As part of the Mexican Government's anti-corruption
Operation Cleanup (Limpieza), an ongoing investigation into
information leaks by law enforcement officials to drug
traffickers (see reftels), Rodolfo de la Guardia Garcia, a
former top official at AFI, was placed under forty- days
arrest-in-place after being taken into custody in October.
More recently, the Director for International Police Affairs
at the Federal Investigative Agency (AFI) and head of
Interpol in Mexico, Ricardo Gutierrez Vargas, was similarly
placed under forty -days arrest-in-place last week for his
alleged links with drug cartels. Interpol announced November
20 that it sent a team to Mexico to investigate the
possibility that its communication systems and databases are
not being used for legitimate law enforcement purposes, even
while the Mexican government sought to assure Interpol that
no sensitive information from the international police
agency's system was leaked to cartels. Mexico's Interpol
office, or National Central Bureau, is staffed and run by AFI.

3. (SBU) In addition to these apprehensions, Mexico's former
head of the Attorney General's (PGR) Office of the
Sub-Prosecutor for the Investigation of Organized Crime
(SIEDO), Noe Ramirez Mandujano, popularly regarded as
Mexico's anti-drug czar, was also arrested last week for his
alleged involvement with cartels. Ramirez had served in that
position for twenty months until he resigned in July.
Attorney General Media Mora announced that information from a
member of the Sinaloa cartel accused Ramirez of accepting a
450,000 USD monthly payment from the cartel in exchange for
confidential information. Over thirty Mexican government
officials have been arrested or dismissed since July in
connection with Operation Cleanup.

Good For President Calderon
---------------------------

4. (C) Gutierrez and Ramirez are two of the highest ranking
GOM officials uncovered by Operation Cleanup, demonstrating
the Calderon administration's ostensible commitment to
cleaning house even as investigations encroach on the upper
echelons of government. Political and security analyst Juan
Pardinas told Poloff on November 24 that he was "pleasantly
surprised" by the arrests of Gutierrez and Ramirez and opined
that Calderon is "hitting the right targets" with Operation
Cleanup. Pardinas also said that this was the strongest
anti-corruption message the president has sent so far.

5. (C) Pardinas expects that the recent round of arrests and
investigations probably will lead, at the very least, to more
apprehensions of mid-level officials. In the short term, the
arrests may undermine public confidence in both Calderon and
Mexico's security apparatus as the extent of
narco-infiltration in government is made clear. Pardinas
suggested that in the long term, however, the housecleaning
will help to build Calderon's track record as being truly
committed to restoring the integrity of and public faith in

MEXICO 00003498 002 OF 002


Mexico's public security system.

Bad for Garcia Luna?
--------------------

6. (SBU) Mexican media outlets have highlighted that many of
the recent investigations have been focused on officials
close to Secretary of Public Security (SSP) Garcia Luna,
including Gutierrez, Francisco Navarro, chief of SSP's
Special Operations, Gerardo Garay Cadena, head of the Federal
Preventative Police, and Mario Velarde Martinez, who had
served as Garcia Luna's private secretary. While in Peru
attending the APEC Summit, Calderon publicly expressed his
confidence in Garcia Luna and said that Garcia Luna would not
be the Public Security Secretary if the president had any
doubts as to his abilities. Calderon exhorted observers not
to interpret Operation Cleanup as targeted at any one person.

7. (C) Nevertheless, some perceive the investigations into
the behavior of so many of Garcia Luna's close colleagues and
subordinates as potentially undermining his authority as an
effective Public Security Secretary. While high-level PGR
officials also have been subject to investigations and
arrests, Medina Mora's reputation does not appear to be
taking a similar hit, probably in some measure because PGR is
conducting its own anti-corruption sweeps. SSP, on the other
hand, appears to be less an active agent in an
anti-corruption campaign and more a passive participant as
the PGR is investigating and prosecuting corruption cases in
the Secretariat. Pardinas noted that the number of corrupted
officials surrounding Garcia Luna points to either negligence
or tolerance on his part, even if thus far evidence has not
been presented to publicly implicate Garcia Luna in corrupt
activities. While press sources speculate that Calderon may
soon ask Garcia Luna to step down, it bears recalling that
press and political circles have been rife with such rumors
practically since Garcia Luna assumed his current post.

8. (C) Concerns about Garcia Luna's ability to manage his
subordinates may complicate Mexico's ability to work
bilaterally on sensitive security issues. In addition to
Interpol's concerns regarding the integrity of its
information and databases, Colombia also is worried about the
levels of corruption in Mexican law enforcement. Political
Officer Paola Holguin at the Colombian Embassy in Mexico City
told Poloff on November 19 that the Director of Colombia's
National Police had recently told Garcia Luna that if he does
not better vet--and demonstrate to Colombia that the vetting
process was thorough--Federal Police officers receiving
training from Colombia, Bogota will need to look at cutting
off the program.

Comment
-------

9. (C) Calderon may be stung in the short term by a public
reeling from revelations of narco-infiltration into high
levels of the Mexican security apparatus. In the longer
term, however, such efforts will help him to build a
reputation as being committed to combating organized crime
and the cartels both inside his own house and in the country
writ large. The key will be developing an institutional
capacity to keep the forces clean, something that will take a
sustained commitment over many years to achieve. The real
loser in all this may be Garcia Luna, who while to date not
implicated personally in the corrupt activities of his
subordinates, will have to work hard to overcome the
perception that he is either oblivious to what goes on around
him or tolerates his underlings' less-than-savory activities.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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