Published: Sat, January 19, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

‘El Chapo’ paid ex-Mexican president US$100m bribe, says trial witness

‘El Chapo’ paid ex-Mexican president US$100m bribe, says trial witness

That's according to a witness who testified Tuesday at the trial of the notorious Mexican drug lord known as "El Chapo" in New York City.

Cifuentes made his claims while being questioned by Jeffrey Lichtman, one of Guzman's lawyers, at the trial in Brooklyn.

He tweeted: "The declarations of the Colombian drug trafficker in NY are false, defamatory and absurd" and said Mr Pena Nieto's government had "located, detained and extradited" El Chapo.

Alex Cifuentes spoke about the alleged bribe to President Enrique Pena Nieto during his testimony Tuesday in Guzman's trial in NY. He was extradited to the United States in 2017 to face charges of trafficking cocaine, heroin and other drugs into the country as leader of the Sinaloa Cartel. At the start of the trial, Lichtman indicated that jurors would hear testimony about bribes paid to both Pena Nieto and another former Mexican president, Felipe Calderon. Peña Nieto has not responded to the claim but has previously denied charges of corruption.

According to reporters in the Brooklyn courthouse, Nieto, who served as the president of Mexico from 2012 to 2018, had requested Dollars 250 million before settling for USD 100 million. Nieto left office previous year. Nieto allegedly reached out to El Chapo, telling him that he "didn't need to stay in hiding" if he handed over the money.

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Schellenberg had originally been sentenced to 15 years in prison and a 150,000-yuan ($22,000) forfeiture in November. China is believed to execute more people annually than any other country, but is highly secretive about the number.

The defense strategy for eliciting testimony about Guzman making bribes wasn't immediately clear.

While Pena Nieto himself was barred by law from running for second term in 2018, his centrist party suffered a historic defeat at the polls as leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won in a landslide, relegating the PRI to the role of a marginal player in the new Congress. He also said that it had been a priority since the beginning of Nieto's term as president.

He famously broke out of jail twice, including in 2015 when he escaped through a mile-long tunnel that had been dug to his cell. He previously served as governor of the State of Mexico. Guzman allegedly founded the Sinaloa Cartel, an worldwide money laundering, drug trafficking and organized crime network that was established during the mid-1980s, and widely considered one of the world's most powerful illicit drug organizations.

Cifuentes said yes, that is what Guzman told him.

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