Mismanagement in the seizing of an aircraft used to smuggle drugs will cost the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) 271 million pesos (US $13.2 million).
A Rockwell Sabreliner mid-size business jet was seized in 2000 as part of a drug trafficking investigation involving its two pilots. Two years later, they were absolved of all charges because the PGR had “altered the physical state of the aircraft, and those alterations prevented it from being used as evidence in the criminal process.”
The PGR was supposed to return the airplane to its rightful owner, the firm Servicios y Reparaciones Aeronáuticos, but instead it was added to its own fleet.
In 2006, the jet was dismantled and sold for scrap for 70,000 pesos (about US $6,400 at the time).
In 2008, the owner of the plane filed a legal complaint against the PGR and six years later the Supreme Court ordered an investigation to determine if there had been “illegal administrative activity.”
In November 2015 a federal court ordered that the PGR pay 271 million pesos in damages and losses caused to Servicios y Reparaciones Aeronáuticos.
Because the PGR neglected to appeal the court’s decision in a timely manner, the ruling is now considered final.
Litigation experts and Senators interviewed by the newspaper Reforma agreed that the PGR must now find out which officials were involved in the handling of the case and its appeal.
“They must review who was in charge of this case . . . to find those responsible within the Attorney General’s office. There’s more to this than just the PGR paying up,” said Rodolfo Félix Cárdenas, former Attorney General of Mexico City.
At the time when an appeal to the federal court’s ruling could have been filed, Adriana Campos López was employed as head of the PGR’s legal affairs department.
She was later promoted to an inspector’s position by the Attorney General Raúl Cervantes.
“[Campos] let the time for an appeal go by, and she has a very serious administrative responsibility . . . who knows if she intentionally let it happen,” added Cárdenas.
The president of the Commission of Justice in the Senate condemned Campos’ promotion.
“It is unacceptable that instead of facing the consequences after such a serious offense, the civil servant was rewarded. The Attorney General must carefully analyze what happened there,” said Fernando Yunes.
Francisco Rivas, president of the National Citizens Observatory, said such cases happen often, not only at the federal level but under the watch of the state Attorney Generals’ offices as well.
“There is a major flaw in the way the authorities act: protocols define one thing and the [Attorney General’s] public prosecutors decide another.”
“This can be explained not only by the lack of training, expertise and supervision of the civil servants, but also by the lack of a culture of legality,” added Rivas.
Source: Reforma (sp)