Close associates of a suspected gang leader allegedly involved in the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero in 2014 paid millions of pesos for his release, says the federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR).
José Angel Casarrubias Salgado, the presumed leader of the Guerreros Unidos gang that allegedly abducted and killed the Ayotzinapa rural teachers college students on September 26, 2014, was arrested last week after almost six years on the run.
But Casarrubias, also known as “El Mochomo,” was released from the Altiplano federal prison in Almoloya de Juárez, México state, on Wednesday due to a lack of evidence.
The Attorney General’s Office said Thursday that SEIDO, the organized crime unit of the FGR, had intercepted telephone conversations that indicated that “several individuals close to the accused” offered the presiding judge’s staff millions of pesos in bribes in exchange for his release.
The newspaper El Universal obtained audio of an intercepted telephone conversation that indicated that Casarrubias’ mother was one of the people to whom the FGR was referring.
In the audio, a lawyer tells Francelia Salgado Patiño about the progress in the “work” to have her son released from prison.
He said the groundwork for the payments to be made had been completed and that all that remained was to hand the money over.
“Everything is already done” apart from the “economic issue,” the lawyer said. “That’s why I told you about the economic issue, … you tell me [what to do].”
Salgado responded that there would be no problem making the payments required to secure the release of her son.
“Don’t you remember that we agreed, as they say, [to keep] giving and giving. … We’re not going to back down,” she said.
The lawyer then made arrangements to meet with Salgado so that she could hand over the money.
The suspected criminal leader’s mother agreed to the meeting and reiterated that there would be no problem paying the necessary bribes. The date that the telephone conversation occurred is unclear.
The FGR said that it had spoken with Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Zaldívar and that he has launched an investigation into the judicial system corruption that allegedly took place.
Despite the bribe, Casarrubias was rearrested Wednesday immediately after his release from prison.
Speaking at his regular news conference on Thursday, President López Obrador also asserted that corruption was a factor in the suspect’s release.
“I can say that the release of this man, alleged perpetrator … of the disappearance of the young men from Ayotzinapa, had to do with an act of corruption in the court where he was granted his freedom,” he said.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said that prosecutors had requested 46 warrants for the arrest of municipal officials in Guerrero in connection with the disappearance and presumed murder of the 43 students.
He said the FGR’s new investigation into the students’ disappearance was making progress and that the former government’s so-called “historic truth” – that the students were kidnapped by corrupt municipal police, turned over to the Guerreros Unidos, killed and burned – “is over.”