Mexican Generals Arrested for Alleged Ties to Drug Trade

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Two Mexican generals, one of them a former deputy defense minister, have been arrested on suspicion of links to organized crime, in a scandal that could develop into the highest-level case of military corruption under the administration of President Felipe Calderon.

On May 15 the security forces arrested retired General Tomas Angeles Dauhare and General Dawe Gonzalez, handing them over for questioning to the country’s main organized crime unit, the Office of Special Investigations into Organized Crime (SIEDO).

An official from the Attorney General’s Office, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the two are suspected of colluding with Mexican criminal syndicates. The men are expected to face a judge in the coming days, who will weigh evidence against them and determine whether to proceed with a trial.

If the judge deems that the case merits a trial, it would be the biggest corruption scandal yet to hit the outgoing Calderon administration. Angeles was second-in-command of the military during Calderon’s first two years in office, helping to implement the first stages of the president’s crackdown on drug trafficking organizations before retiring in 2008. Dawe is an active-duty general, and has led military forces in the troubled states of Chihuahua and Sinaloa.

InSight Crime Analysis

A trial of these military officials would be a major blow to the legacy of Calderon, who has attempted to cast himself as a crusader against powerful drug trafficking networks in Mexico. The deployment of the army in border cities and areas dominated by criminal groups has been a pillar of his security strategy. While some have criticized the use of the military over alleged human rights abuses, Calderon has defended his reliance on the armed forces, and many analysts see their deployment as necessary due to widespread corruption among local and state police.

This case could inflict serious damage on the military’s reputation as a relatively clean force. If it emerges that the officials received bribes from cartels, as in the 1997 case of General Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo (arrested for accepting payoffs from the Juarez Cartel), it could spark a renewed national dialogue on the role of the military in internal security. This could even encourage current front-runner for the July presidential elections, Enrique Peña Nieto, to reverse his positive stance on deploying the military to fight organized crime.

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