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By Drazen Jorgicenginogluevdenevenakliyat.com – https://enginogluevdenevenakliyat.com CUERNAVACA, Mexico Feb 3 (Reuters) – It was supposed to be a festive occasion. Regional politicians, officials and military officers gathered in the Morelos state capital of Cuernavaca for breakfast in February 2022 to mark Mexico´s annual Army day.
Cuauhtémoc Blanco, a former Mexican soccer star and the state´s governor, celebrated with red wine. But he wasn´t happy. Among those in attendance was state Attorney General Uriel Carmona – who had recently been asked by state legislators to investigate the governor´s suspected ties to drug traffickers.
As Carmona moved to shake Blanco´s hand and bid him goodbye, the attorney general alleges, the governor grabbed his arm. Blanco said he´d been tipped off that another prosecutor was sniffing around his eldest son´s financial accounts. A line had been crossed, the barrel-chested Blanco said, and warned: “Now I´m going to mess with your families, and I´m not going to hold back.” Carmona told the governor that he was leveling threats against law enforcement – a potential felony.
He described the encounter in a criminal complaint, viewed by Reuters, filed two days later against Blanco with an independent state anti-corruption prosecutorial body. The breakfast confrontation and the criminal complaint, which haven´t been previously reported, add to a cloud of scandal over one of Mexico´s most famous men – a legend on the soccer pitch, working-class hero and a rising star in politics.
The dust-up came just six weeks after Mexican newspaper El Sol de México published a photo of the governor posing with three alleged drug traffickers in Morelos. The headline on that front-page photo: “Blanco met with narco leaders in Morelos.” The newspaper said the photo was found on the phone of a drug trafficker arrested by the military in November 2021.
The news outlet did not explain how it obtained the photo, and it´s not clear who shot it. Mexican drug lords have a long tradition of buying off politicians in exchange for government protection of their illicit trade. The bombshell photo is what prompted state lawmakers to demand the investigation into Blanco in complaints filed with state and federal authorities in January 2022.
One of the men in the undated image was Homero Figueroa, the purported leader of the Comando Tlahuica crime group. Another, Raymundo Castro, the alleged boss of the Guerreros Unidos cartel in Morelos, had been on the run from authorities since 2014. Reuters confirmed their identities with six law enforcement officials. In an interview with Reuters, Blanco said Attorney General Carmona, who was appointed by the governor’s predecessor, is a tool of his political enemies.
He denied making death threats – or drinking wine at the breakfast. “I´m not a drug trafficker,” Blanco said in Cuernavaca´s colonial-era government palace building. As for the alleged warning to Carmona, he said: “I´m not so crazy or deranged as to threaten his family.” Blanco also denied knowing the trio in the photo and dismissed the picture as a routine snap with strangers at a public gathering.
That assertion is not credible, two prosecutors and a third source in the state attorney general´s office told Reuters. They said the encounter captured in the photo occurred in a small room of a church complex near Cuernavaca capable of holding about ten people. Rival drug kingpins don´t tend to hobnob at casual mixers, the prosecutors said, and they would have traveled with so many armed guards that Blanco´s own security detail would have known something was amiss. Blanco´s son, also named Cuauhtémoc, did not respond to requests for comment about the allegation that his finances were under scrutiny by law enforcement.
He has not been accused of wrongdoing. Attempts to reach two of the alleged drug traffickers in the photo – Figueroa and Irving Solano Vera – were unsuccessful. Castro, the third purported gangster, died in prison in 2019. In many other countries, mingling with suspected drug traffickers might be a political death sentence.
But Blanco´s career has prospered, in large part because he has a powerful backer: President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The Mexican leader has transformed the nation´s political landscape in recent years, constructing an electoral juggernaut with his Morena party, which has grabbed power from established parties.
His populist pitch to clean up Mexico´s corrupt politics has won him poll ratings that are some of the highest in the world for a national leader. López Obrador repeatedly has ignored controversy swirling around Blanco, whose athletic achievements and rags-to-riches story have proved electoral gold in soccer-obsessed Mexico.
Their alliance dates to the 2018 national elections. Then-presidential candidate López Obrador backed Blanco´s bid for the Morelos governorship, recognizing the ex-player´s appeal, particu
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