Financial intelligence chief Nieto. Financial intelligence chief Nieto.

Financial authorities freeze accounts of judge who freed cartel suspects

The Jalisco-based federal judge has 50 million pesos in the bank

Authorities have frozen the bank accounts of a federal judge suspected of corruption after releasing members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) from preventative custody.

The Financial Intelligence Unit said yesterday that a Jalisco-based judge – reported by the Reforma newspaper to be Isidro Avelar Gutiérrez – had lost access to accounts containing 50 million pesos (US $2.6 million).

“We’ve frozen his accounts and filed a complaint with the federal Attorney General’s Office . . .” UIF chief Santiago Nieto said.

The UIF initiated its investigation into Avelar after senators from the ruling Morena party disclosed that he had spent 18.7 million pesos on properties between 2010 and 2016.

The judge has been under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office since the six-year term of the previous government.

On July 17 last year, Avelar ordered the release of Juan Francisco Aguilar Santana, a CJNG operative known as “Juan Pistolas” who is believed to be close to cartel leader Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes.

Aguilar was arrested at an address in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, Jalisco, in June 2018 with more than 30 firearms, including two grenade launchers, and illegal drugs.

He was remanded in preventative custody until Avelar ordered his release on the grounds that the authorities had obtained a search warrant for the address without following proper processes.

In 2015, the judge also freed the son of El Mencho, Rubén Oseguera González, and his brother-in-law after ruling that their arrest was illegal.

In that case, Avelar said that Federal Police had entered a home illegally to arrest the two men, contradicting federal authorities’ version of events that the arrests were made when the suspects were riding in a truck.

The judge identified three other factors as well: there was a delay of nine hours between their arrest and their presentation before a prosecutor, they were not given immediate access to a defense lawyer and there was insufficient evidence linking the men with the CJNG.

According to a report today in the newspaper Reforma, federal authorities are also investigating other Jalisco judges who are believed to have colluded with Avelar.

Some judges allegedly passed on CJNG cases to him under the pretext that their excessive workloads precluded them from hearing them.

In addition to freeing cartel suspects, the federal judge also granted an injunction in 2011 to former Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) operations director Néstor Moreno, ruling that there was no evidence of illicit enrichment to justify the issuing of an arrest warrant against him.

In 2017, the CFE official was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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