Thursday, December 7, 2023

Former Mexico City police chief wanted in multimillion-peso contract scam

A federal judge has issued arrest warrants for 19 former officials of the Federal Police (PF), including the previous chief of the Mexico City police, for embezzling millions of pesos during the term of former president Enrique Peña Nieto.

Jesús Orta Martínez, who resigned as the capital’s police chief last October, and Frida Martínez Zamora are among those suspected of being part of a scam in which government contracts were inflated and funds intended for the acquisition of vehicles, uniforms, weapons and technology were diverted for personal gain.

Martínez has been a close associate of Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, who was interior minister and responsible for the police force at the time, since 2004, the year before he became governor of Hidalgo. He is currently an Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) senator.

Both Orta and Martínez were secretaries general of the Federal Police at the time of the alleged embezzlement.

Federal authorities said Martínez is not currently in Mexico while Orta’s whereabouts are unknown. An attempt to arrest him at his home was unsuccessful. 

Former interior minister Osorio Chong.
Former interior minister Osorio Chong.

The Ministry of Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC) first uncovered the financial malfeasance in 2019. Authorities say Orta and Martínez alone are believed to have embezzled millions of pesos.

Among the items that caught the attention of the Special Prosecutor for Investigation of Organized Crime were payments of between 15 million and 30 million pesos (US $671,000 to $1.34 million at today’s exchange rate) in Orta and Martínez’s names. 

Investigators discovered that a 2.6 billion-peso, no-bid contract to purchase technology from Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems was issued at four times market value and only half that amount was actually paid.

The police force also signed contracts for the maintenance of its land and air fleets during the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years in the amount of 890 million pesos, of which it only actually paid 467 million.

In addition to Orta and Martínez, among the 19 sought by police are former PF commander Carlos Hipólito Rivera Codin, who was a ranking official with the National Guard until last Friday, and Eleuterio Enrique Pérez Romero, a high-ranking official with the Ministry of the Interior.

Also wanted by authorities are Francisco Javier Cruz Rosas, former private secretary to the leader of the PF’s anti-drug division, and Federico Emilio Metzger Sánchez Armas, property administrator for the PF.  

None of the 19 had been arrested as of noon Tuesday.

Source: Reforma (sp), La Jornada (sp), Infobae (sp), Proceso (sp)

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