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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09MEXICO133 2009-01-20 15:43:00 SECRET Embassy Mexico
Cable title:  

MEXICAN ARMY MAJOR ARRESTED FOR ASSISTING DRUG

Tags:   PGOV PINR PREL SNAR MX 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: A mid-level Mexican army major was arrested
in late December 2008 for assisting drug traffickers and
providing them with limited information about the activities
and travel plans of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
According to an informant, the cartels were using the
information to avoid heightened security around the
president, not to target him personally. The arrest
represents the most serious security breach to date but is
not surprising given high-level civilian Government of Mexico
(GOM) corruption charges over the past six months. While the
case demonstrates that the Mexican Secretariat of Defense
(SEDENA) failed to properly investigate and oversee an
officer who was involved in providing security for the
president, it nevertheless indicates that the military is
serious about combating corruption. Although the major was
not part of the president's inner circle, it also shows that
the cartels succeeded in infiltrating a significant area of
the GOM's security apparatus. END SUMMARY.



2. (SBU) Mid-level Mexican Army Major Arturo Gonzalez
Rodriguez was arrested the week of December 21, 2008, for
allegedly assisting Mexican drug trafficking organizations
(DTO) for USD 100K a month. Gonzalez had been assigned to
the Estado Mayor (Presidential Protective Division), the unit
responsible for protecting Mexico's president, to secure the
periphery around the president's location. Based on
statements from a former cartel member turned witness
code-named "Jennifer," PGR has accused Gonzalez of passing
information related to the activities and travel plans of
Mexican President Felipe Calderon to the Arturo Beltran Leyva
organization (ABLO). Gonzalez also stands accused of leaking
military intelligence, training ABLO hit men through a
private security company and supplying military weapons to
various DTOs, including los Zetas.



3. (C) In light of high-level civilian Government of Mexico
(GOM) corruption charges over the past months, this case is
disturbing but certainly not shocking. GOM sources sought to
downplay the seriousness of the breach, but the revelation
that Gonzalez was providing intelligence and materials to
ABLO represented a double blow to the GOM. First, the fact
that a member of an army unit responsible for protecting the
president was passing information about presidential
movements to the cartels exposes a gap in Calderon's security
detail. While it is not known what specific information
Gonzalez had access to, or what exact details he was passing
to the cartels, this is a significant security breach. PGR
Senior Advisor Oscar Rocha told Poloff that, even though
Gonzalez was not/not one of the president's personal guards,
he had access to the president's movements to facilitate his
unit's forward deployments. However, given that not all
batallions are deployed at any given event, the major likely
only had partial information for a relatively short period of
time about the president's movements. According to PGR, the
informant Jennifer has said the cartels were tracking the
president's movements with the intent of avoiding the high
level of government security that surrounds the president,
but had no specific plan to target Calderon.



4. (SBU) The second unsettling aspect of the case is that
Gonzalez apparently had been on the cartel payroll since
2005, during which time he held different positions in the
government. As he changed assignments, he was kept on as a
cartel asset, and the nature of his involvement with the
cartels changed. It is entirely feasible that he fed
information on other departments of the army (not just the
Presidential Protective Division) over the course of his
three-year relationship with the cartels.



5. (S/NF) RSO shared threat information with the Presidential
Protective Division regarding threats against the life of
President Calderon from DTOs. One source advised that
Calderon's medical file was passed to a DTO by a corrupt
member of Calderon's inner circle. Regarding the arrest of
Major Gonzalez, General Cuevas, the second in command of the
Presidential Protective Division, was not overly concerned as
he stated that the major did not have close access to the
president. .



6. (C) COMMENT: One of the primary reasons the GOM relies on
the military to fight the cartels is the perception that the
military is considerably less corrupt than the state and

MEXICO 00000133 002 OF 002


local police forces. But this case -- along with other
military corruption arrests in 2008 -- reaffirms that members
of the Mexican military also are prone to corruption.
Security expert Raul Benitez told Poloff that this case
represents an intelligence failure on the part of the
Secretariat of Defense (SEDENA) as it had cleared this
individual for the assignment. On the upside, SEDENA
ultimately uncovered the criminal behavior and took action.
According to the Embassy's Defense Attache Office (DAO),
SEDENA recognizes the danger of corruption in the military in
its fight against narcotrafficking, particularly in the
garrisons out in the countryside. To counter that threat,
SEDENA administers a program of counter-intelligence
(excluding the Presidential Protective Division) and has
begun, under the Calderon administration, rotating units in
from the outside in joint operations with local units. Just
as with other institutions engaged in the drug war, DAO
believes that the cartels are reaching out to the military
with offers some cannot refuse. Although the army major was
not part of the president's inner circle, this case
demonstrates that the cartels were able to extend their
intelligence network to those charged with protecting his
personal security. END COMMENT.

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