Published: Fri, January 18, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Trafficker Testifies That ‘El Chapo’ Bragged About Bribing Former Mexican President

Trafficker Testifies That ‘El Chapo’ Bragged About Bribing Former Mexican President

Shocking allegations in the "El Chapo" trial: Drug lord Joaquin Guzman paid former Mexican leader Enrique Pena Nieto $100 million to avoid recapture, and it was Pena Nieto who reached out first, a witness claimed in the trial Tuesday.

A spokesman for Pena Nieto, who left office a year ago, called the bribery claim "false and defamatory" when it first came up earlier in the trial.

Pena Nieto was president of Mexico from December 2012 until November 2018. Pena Nieto was unable to be reached for comment.

When asked if he told authorities in 2016 that Guzman arranged the bribe, he answered, "That's right".

Cifuentes, a Colombian drug lord who has described himself as El Chapo's "right-hand man", claimed the delivery was made to Mexico City in October 2012 by a friend of El Chapo.

He is one of the witnesses who have turned against Guzman after making deals with U.S. prosecutors.

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In his opening statement at the start of the trial in November, Lichtman said Guzman was the victim of a conspiracy by his partner and the true head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada Garcia.

Cifuentes also said testified that Guzman once told him that he had received a message from Pena Nieto saying that he did not have to live in hiding anymore.

The federal judge in the case has warned the defense attorney for Guzman from making unsubstantiated claims of corruption in order to defend his client. He said the money was delivered by a woman named Maria in Mexico City. Lichtman said Zambada paid millions of dollars in bribes to two presidents, including Peña Nieto.

The 61-year-old drug lord made headlines twice for breaking out of prison, including escaping through a mile-long tunnel in 2015.

The jailbreak humiliated the government and battered the president's already damaged credibility, though Pena Nieto personally announced news of the kingpin's third capture when he was again arrested in northwestern Mexico in January 2016. However, during the course of Tuesday's testimony, he also clarified that he was "confused" about the exact amount of bribe paid to Nieto.

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