Transparency & accountability

Three federal judges suspended for allegedly favoring casino mogul

Mexico's "Casino Czar" Juan José Ropas ))). Photo: Proceso.
Mexico’s “Casino Czar” Juan José Rojas Cardona. Photo: Proceso.

05/30/14 (written by cmolzahn) — Mexico’s Federal Judicial Council (Consejo de la Judicatura Federal, CJF) in early May suspended two federal judge magistrates (magistrados), Magistrates Eduardo Ochoa Torres and José Manuel Rodriguez Puerto, and an additional federal judge, Javier Rubén Lozano Martínez, for allegedly issuing rulings favoring one of Mexico’s leading casino operators. The CJF is also accusing Judge Lozano Martínez of participating in an influence peddling network. All three are based in northern states along the U.S-Mexico border, with Ochoa Torres and Lozáno Martínez in Monterrey, Nuevo León and Rodríguez Puerto in Tamaulipas. Also implicated in the CJF’s investigation is Mario Alberto Prado Rodríguez, former technical secretary for Daniel Francisco Cabeza de Vaca, who served as former President Felipe Calderón’s legal counsel. The CJF claims to have audio recordings tying the four men to Juan José Rojas Cardona, Mexico’s “Casino Czar,” who until recent government action operated 26 casinos, primarily in Mexico’s border region.

These recent suspensions, handed down on May 7, followed an extensive anticorruption investigation involving the Mexican judiciary and the casino industry dating back to 2011. In January, the CJF initiated disciplinary procedures against former District Court Judge Luis Armando Jerezano Treviño and Judicial Secretary (secretario de juzgado) Gerardo Tiscareño Mercado, both based in Saltillo, Coahuila, for allegedly arranging favorable legal decisions for casinos operating in the northern state. Jerezano Treviño had been suspended by the CJF in September 2011 under the same suspicions. In addition, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency opened its own investigation into Jerezano Treviño, identifying several U.S. bank accounts belonging to the former judge it says contained at least $3.2 million (USD) in illicit funds. The U.S. Department of Justice seized the funds, determining that the majority originated from bribes paid for favorable court rulings, at least in part by criminal organizations. In 2006, Jerezano Treviño granted an injunction ordering Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) to return properties it had seized from Juan Chapa Garza, determined to be a proxy for Gulf Cartel (Cartel del Golfo, CDG) founder Juan García Ábrego. In a press release, the CJF said that it would continue administrative proceedings against those implicated in the alleged influence peddling network to the extent of its constitutional authority.

At the center of the Mexican government’s crackdown on corrupt practices in the casino industry has been Juan José Rojas Cardona, Mexico’s so-called “Casino Czar.” On April 25 of this year, Mexico’s Interior Ministry (Secretaría de Gobernación, SEGOB) ordered the closure of seven casinos belonging to Rojas Cardona for irregularities in obtaining operating licenses in 2005. Shortly thereafter, the Rojas Cardona family decided to close its 20 other establishments in Mexico in order to protect its clientele, according to Eduardo Campos, spokesman for Entretenimiento de México, which administers Rojas Cardona’s casino chain. In May, SEGOB revoked the operating licenses of 19 of those establishments, which were opened in accordance with a permit issued to Entretenimiento de México in May 2005 to open 50 gambling establishments with license to operate until 2030.


Otero, Silvia. “CFJ actúa contra juez federal y secretario por anomalías.” El Universal. January 23, 2014.

Otero, Silvia. “DEA halla más cuentas de Jerezano.” El Universal. February 6, 2014.

“Denuncia CJF a dos magistrados y un juez por favorecer a ‘El Zar de los Casinos.’” Proceso. May 14, 2014.

Mendieta, Eduardo. “Segob revoca permisos a los casinos de Rojas Cardona.” Milenio. May 21, 2014.

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