02/18/12 – According to information published by news outlet Reforma, a General of the Sixth Military Zone based in Coahuila– a state in northern Mexico– was on the payroll of the Zetas’ criminal organization, as investigations by the Military Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia Militar, PGJM) and the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) have discovered.
In the criminal case 279/2011 of the First Military Court in Mexico City, there is testimony recorded from Pedro Toga Lara, “El Gaucho”, an operator of the Zetas, who was arrested by the Mexican Military (Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, SEDENA) on March 12, 2011, in Saltillo, Coahuila. According to the testimony, El Gaucho stated that he was responsible for making payments to those listed on the Zetas’ payroll, which included dozens of soldiers, and that money had been paid to a General whose name was not released, but who has been identified as the Chief of Staff (Jefe del Estado Mayor) of the Military Zone of Saltillo, as well as to another unidentified SEDENA official. The General’s explicit role in Saltillo, according to orders given by the Zetas, was to calm the environment and reduce military patrolling in the zone. The military court declined its jurisdiction on the case and sent it to a District Court in Coahuila.
The investigation into members of the military being on the Zetas’ payroll began in March 2011 under the lead of the PGJM and the Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime (Subrocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada, SIEDO). It has since led to arrest the former sub-delegate of the PGR in Coahuila, Claudia González, and the former Chief of Operations Police (Policía Operativa de Coahuila), Manuel Cicero, on February 15 and 16, 2012, respectively, for their links to the Zetas. After their arrests, the head of the PGR, Marisela Morales Ibáñez, applauded the campaign, Operación Limpieza, that helped bring them down, which is a nationwide operation that seeks to clean up federal offices and rid agencies of corruption, like González’s and Cicero’s ties to the Zetas. 16 members of the Sixth Military Zone based in Coahuila were also arrested by the Army on March 16 and 17, 2011, for working with Los Zetas. All of the investigations, including the current one unfolding against the General in Saltillo, stemmed from the March 2011 captures of El Gaucho– considered the second in command of the Zetas in Coahuila– and Emanuel Castillo, “Mickel,” who is the brother of Commander Carlos Alberto Oliva, “La Rana,” who was the regional chief of the Zetas in Coahuila and Nuevo León before being arrested in October 2011. After El Gaucho was arrested last year and started to name those on the Zetas’ payroll, the investigations began.