A fugitive petroleum-theft gang leader thumbed his nose at the law and made a public appearance in two low-income Puebla neighborhoods Tuesday night, distributing 80 tonnes of fresh vegetables to residents who lined up for blocks to receive them.
Antonio Valente “El Toñin” Martínez Fuentes, wanted by authorities, appeared in the two neighborhoods and subsequently posted videos of himself addressing residents standing in line with bags to accept the food.
“My name is Antonio Valente Martínez Fuentes,” one video showed him telling the crowds. “I’m charged with touching the hearts for whom God gathers much food, many vegetables, so that it can arrive in your sacred hands, friends … I hope that the distribution of vegetables I am giving you serves you well.”
Martínez said his motive was to help residents of the two neighborhoods during the economic struggles of the coronavirus pandemic. He also told the crowds to follow his Facebook account, where he promised to announce further deliveries.
Although Puebla Governor Miguel Barbosa has claimed that authorities are on Martínez’s trail, the videos showed police cars guarding the deliveries and city auxiliary police thanking Martínez for donations they said he had made to shelters and public hospitals. In one video, crowds waiting in line waved at those recording them, jovially chatting and at one point cheering. Unseen organizers could also be heard off-camera urging the crowds to social distance.
Martínez delivered the food to the Agua Santa and San Ramón neighborhoods where residents live in government housing.
In the last few days, other photos and videos have appeared online showing similar scenarios at other points in the city, including Cuautlancingo, located in the capital’s metropolitan area, as well as in other municipalities around the state, including Quecholac, located in central Puebla.
Barbosa said later that Martínez has political aspirations.