The lawyer for convicted drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán wants to know if former president Enrique Peña Nieto still wants to sue him for defamation now that another ex-government official is facing charges.
Jeffrey Lichtman used Twitter on Wednesday to ask Peña Nieto the pointed question after the arrest of Genaro García Luna, security secretary during the administration of former president Felipe Calderón, on charges that he allowed the Sinaloa Cartel to operate in exchange for multimillion-dollar bribes.
“Will @EPN [Peña Nieto] still sue me for defamation as he threatened to a year ago?” Lichtman wrote.
“Or will he and Felipe Calderón hire a different type of lawyer to represent them?” he added, suggesting that the ex-presidents could also be arrested for collusion with organized crime.
In his opening statement at the New York trial of Guzmán in November 2018, Lichtman charged that both received millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel.
Eduardo Sánchez, presidential spokesman at the time, quickly rejected the claim, pointing out that the Peña Nieto government arrested Guzmán and extradited him to the United States.
“The assertions attributed to his lawyer are completely false and defamatory,” he wrote on Twitter.
Calderón also rejected Lichtman’s claim, calling it “absolutely false and reckless.”
This week he denied any knowledge of García’s alleged collusion with the Sinaloa Cartel and said he was surprised by the accusations against him.
The assertion that Peña Nieto was on the Sinaloa Cartel payroll resurfaced at the Guzmán trial in January when a former Colombian drug lord who worked with El Chapo claimed that he received a US $100-million bribe in October 2012, two months before he took office.
“Mr. Guzmán paid a bribe of $100 million to President Peña Nieto?” Lichtman asked Alex Cifuentes Villa in court on January 15.
“Yes,” Cifuentes replied, asserting that he was told as much by Guzmán. He also said that Peña Nieto had asked the cartel for US $250 million.
The assertions were rejected by the ex-president’s chief of staff, Francisco Guzmán.
In a statement to United States authorities in 2016, Cifuentes said that Calderón had received bribes from the Beltrán Leyva Cartel but at Guzmán’s trial he said that he didn’t recall having made the claim.
Former security secretary García was also named at the trial when the brother of Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael Zambada testified that he gave him a suitcase containing $3 million in bribe money.
There were suspicions before the trial began that witnesses might name senior government officials who were on the cartel payroll. Several were named, but García is the first to be arrested.
Source: El Universal (sp)