NEW YORK — Some of Mexico's biggest anti-drug operations were the brainchild of a Mexican drug lord who used the military to fight rival dealers, it was reported today.
The report, based on testimony military officers gave during court proceedings in Mexico City, called into question efforts by the U.S. and Mexican governments to rely on the Mexican military in their war on drugs.
The testimony was part of the case against Gen. Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, who was arrested in February and charged with corruption. Prior to his arrest, Gutierrez was Mexico's anti-drug czar.
In transcripts of his defense obtained Friday, Gutierrez says Amado Carrillo Fuentes, whom U.S. and Mexican drug enforcement agencies have identified as Mexico's most powerful drug lord, "could count on the protection of personnel in the Ministry of Defense," adding that a leak from high up helped Carrillo evade arrest in January.
"[It] is evident that complicity with Amado Carrillo came from the ranks of the Defense Ministry," Gutierrez said in testimony delivered May 15.
A number of army captains, lieutenants and other officers are cooperating with prosecutors in the case, court records show.
The officers testified that Gutierrez, Mexican military units and at least four generals worked closely with associates of Carrillo, who helped pay for attacks on his rivals.
Corrupt operations included the army's sweep through Tijuana in March 1996, a dragnet last fall for the assassins of a police commander and January's seizure of a navy freighter carrying cocaine, the New York Times report said.
Gutierrez, 63, a former general who has been jailed since February, denied the charges and said that he kept other officials abreast of his efforts to fight drugs, including his dealings with Carrillo's associates.