07/27/14 (written by cmolzahn) — A Mexican federal judge stands accused of having ties to organized crime, after the judicial oversight committee detected irregularities in his rulings favoring organized crime members, as well as unusually high bank account balances. Mexico’s Federal Judicial Council (Consejo de la Judicatura Federal, CJF), in a statement, said that some of the rulings made by Jesús Guadalupe Luna Altamirano reflect “obvious ineptitude and carelessness.” The case against Luna is expected to soon be handed over to Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR).
The CJF detected unusual bank activity, amounting to $3 million pesos (around $231,000 USD) not reflected in Luna’s tax statements. There were additional deposits to family members’ accounts totaling nearly $2 million pesos, the origin of which are also unknown. In addition, the CJF found “serious irregularities” in at least nine judgments issued by Luna leading the Council to “believe that there was partiality and a lack of professionalism,” according to councilmember José Guadalupe Tafoya Hernández. All of these cases involved drug trafficking and organized crime.
Among the rulings favoring alleged members of organized crime was one authorizing the release from a high security prison of Arturo Culebro Arredono, arrested in April 2011, and who the PGR accused of leading money laundering efforts for the Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO) as well as Colombia’s Norte del Valle organization. A judge had indicted Culebro Arredono on organized crime and money laundering charges, but Luna Altamirano revoked the indictment, upon which Culebro Arredono was set free. A federal judge in Tamaulipas later ordered Culebro’s apprehension, and initiated criminal proceedings against him. He is currently in prison. In August 2011, Luna then absolved Sandra Ávila Beltrán, “The Queen of the Pacific,” of money laundering charges against her, claiming that the evidence authorities had provided against her was either insufficient or inadmissible. Ávila Beltrán is currently in a federal prison in Tepic, Nayarit, after serving a 70-month term in the United States. In 2008, Luna also absolved Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, “El Chapito,” son of Sinaloa Cartel founder and former leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán of charges that he had purchased a luxury BMW with drug proceeds. Iván Guzmán was released from prison the same year. In June 2012, the CJF temporarily suspended Luna and the other members of the tribunal that freed Guzmán.
For his part, Luna Altamirano has denied having any ties to organized crime. In an interview with MVS Noticias, Luna said that all of his decisions have been “in accordance with the law.” The day before his case was supposed to be turned over to the PGR, Luna addressed the case of El Chapo’s son in particular, saying that the authorities “found absolutely nothing against him.” He also maintained that he never made a bank transaction that did not proceed from his salary and that all of his banking activity was reflected in his tax statements.
Notimex. “En breve, CJF presentará denuncia contra magistrado Luna.” Radio Fórmula. July 10, 2014.
“El magistrado que liberó al hijo de ‘El Chapo.’” Milenio. July 11, 2014.
Redacción. “Niega magistrado Luna Altamirano vínculos con el crimen organizado.” Proceso. July 11, 2014.