By Maria E. Molina
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – A senior Mexican police official who worked as Mexico’s Interpol liaison was arrested Tuesday in relation to an investigation involving information leaks from top law enforcement authorities to the nation’s drug cartels. Ricardo Gutiérrez Vargas was director for International Police Affairs and Interpol at the Federal Investigative Agency. Vargas was one of the highest-ranking law enforcement officials in Mexico. However, Vargas was placed under house arrest pending the outcome of the investigation.
The authorities say that Vargas allegedly leaked information to the Beltran Leyva brothers, leaders of a powerful drug cartel, in exchange for large sums of money.
Interpol combats terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking. Vargas could have had access to reams of sensitive intelligence gathered by Mexican and international law enforcement. Interpol is dispatching a team of General Secretariats to Mexico. The purpose of their mission is to meet with relevant Mexican authorities in order to establish allegations of improper use of Interpol’s systems by any Mexican law enforcement official.
In the last year, about 4,000 people have died in the drug wars. Mexican President Felipe Calderón has made confronting the cartels a centerpiece of his administration.
The cartel’s penetration Interpol is an indication of the level of corruption within the Mexican law enforcement. The United States recently committed $400 million to aid in that battle, but many U.S. law enforcement officials remain wary of their Mexican counterparts, fearing that shared information flows quickly to cartel leaders.
For more information, please see:
Latin American Herald Tribune – Interpol Mexico Chief Arrested in “Operation Clean-Up” – 19 November 2008
Washington Post – Mexico’s Police Liaison for Interpol Is Arrested in Drug Probe – 19 November 2008