03/09/2023 (written by jcarillo) –Last week, the Fiscalía General de la República (Office of the Attorney General of Mexico, FGR) reported it is investigating a federal judge, Faustino Gutiérrez Pérez, who canceled an arrest warrant against former governor of Tamaulipas, Franscisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca. The former governor was accused of money laundering, embezzlement of state funds, and possible links to organized crime with cartels. Until October 2022, Cabeza de Vaca held office which granted him immunity from any arrest warrant brought against him. After his immunity expired due to his term limit, Judge Gutiérrez canceled the arrest warrant, thus protecting the former governor. The FGR plans to challenge the cancellation of the arrest warrant, in addition to its investigations. The warrant dismissal left the Attorney General’s office suspicious of potential corruption and caught the attention of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
FGR previous attempts at fighting corruption undermined by federal judges
This is not the first time Judge Guitérrez Pérez attempted to block an arrest warrant filed against the former governor of Tamaulipas. In 2021, Gutiérrez granted an injunction, preventing the FGR from issuing its original arrest warrant against the ex-governor (Milenio). Moreover, in another attempt to help the former governor, Gutiérrez canceled the arrest warrant of a businessman named Juan Francisco Tamez Arellano, who was accused of being involved with the crime organization that allegedly helped the former governor of Tamaulipas launder money (Milenio). On a different occasion, Gutiérrez lifted the blocking of Mariana Gómez Leal’s bank accounts, the wife of Cabeza de Vaca.
Aside from the rulings by Judge Gutiérrez related to Cabeza de Vaca, other federal judges have undermined the FGR with their rulings in favor of federal officials who have been charged with crimes related to corruption. In late February, Judge Roberto Omar Paredes Gorostieta Femat dismissed the case brought against Rosario Robles, a Mexican politician who served in the cabinet of previous President Enrique Peña Nieto as the Secretary of Social and Agrarian Development. The judge held that the case brought against Robles by the FGR was “not criminal but rather administrative”, meaning the case against her could not be brought on criminal charges. The FGR responded by criticizing the judge for the decision to dismiss the case and pledged to challenge the decision as “the violation of legal principles and the most elementary justice cannot be allowed” (El País). Additionally, within the same month, another federal judge, Gustavo Aquiles Villlaseñor, exonerated Ramón Sosamontes, who is linked to Rosario Robles as an alleged collaborator (La Jornada).
As multiple federal judges dismiss charges and arrest warrants brought against public officials, the FGR compiled files during their investigation against these federal judges for “crimes against the administration of justice by public servants” (La Jornada). AMLO joined in the criticism against these federal judges, commenting on the Cabeza de Vaca case. AMLO stated the judiciary is “plagued with corruption” and is an institution that serves to “protect the corrupted”.
Cabeza de Vaca reacts to the dismissal of his arrest warrant
Former governor Cabeza de Vaca is waiting for his lawyers to confirm he can return to Mexico after the arrest warrant was canceled. While the FGR intends to challenge the arrest warrant brought against him, the ex-governor believes the law has “agreed with him” and the Attorney General’s office has nothing but “false statements, with altered and apocryphal documents and inventing crimes” (Milenio). After accusing the FGR of fabricating a case against him, he announced his participation in the upcoming 2024 elections. He stated he will “wait for the call” from Marko Cortés, president of Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), to nominate him as a potential candidate for the presidency.
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Domínguez, Pedro. “AMLO lamenta amparo otorgado a García Cabeza de Vaca: “parte de la decadencia del Poder Judicial”’. Milenio. March 3, 2023.
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