Galerías Tamarindos, a shopping center in Iguala Galerías Tamarindos, a shopping center in Iguala with ties to Abarca and Pineda.

20 properties linked to ex-mayor and wife

Judge accepts money-laundering case against María de los Angeles Pineda

The case against the Imperial Couple of Iguala appears to be getting stronger as the investigation progresses and uncovers the criminal network the former mayor and his wife were allegedly part of.

The Attorney General’s office has gathered evidence that documents at least 20 properties belonging to José Luis Abarca Velázquez and his wife, their illicit origin and ties to drug money.

Although only three of the properties have been linked to María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, Abarca’s wife, the investigations seem to suggest that she controlled and decided which properties the Guerreros Unidos cartel bought, to be used mostly as drug laboratories.

A key witness in the case against Pineda has declared that he once sold a piece of land to people he suspected were members of the cartel. On that occasion, the buyers mentioned that “María de los Ángeles had instructed them to build an artesian well.”

When the seller noticed  instead that heavy drums containing some liquid were being stored there and that armed men patrolled the area, he decided to report what he had seen to the Army, which led to the apprehension of the criminals.

“After the arrest, self-identified members of the Guerreros Unidos threatened me, saying they had been instructed by Pineda and Abarca to kill me and my family for reporting their activities,” said the citizen, who at one point had to defend himself against a murder attempt by firing on his assailants.

Many of the properties and possessions linked to Abarca — such as pieces of land, jewelry and condominiums — were irregularly purchased, and in some cases there is no indication who the seller was, while some others are reported as having been inherited.

The Attorney General is still investigating and trying to uncover who the Abarcas’ frontmen were, as there is evidence that additional real estate in the Federal District and the nearby state of Tlaxcala belonged to the couple.

Besides the allegations of irregular real estate purchases, Pineda Villa now faces an equally serious formal accusation: that of money laundering.

On October 31, a federal judge determined that the case against Pineda on that charge had been properly demonstrated, succeeding in establishing her alleged involvement in that and other criminal activities.

The legal process faced by Pineda now includes the accusations of being part of the Guerreros Unidos cartel, managing the organization’s funds and buying and distributing drugs, along with investigation into her multi-million-peso income.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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