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Mexico minister denies taking drug money

29 November 2012, 15:02

Mexico City - Mexican security minister Genaro Garcia Luna has denied taking bribes from an alleged top drug trafficker who said in a letter to a major newspaper that he had paid off the official since 2002.

The letter from indicted drug lord Edgar Valdez Villarreal "aims to inhibit the actions of authorities against criminal organisations", Jose Ramon Salinas, a spokesperson for the public security ministry, said on Wednesday.

Villarreal "has sought to blackmail authorities in order to obtain privileges" at the federal maximum security prison where he awaits a verdict on charges of drug-related homicide.

The accusations come just days before Enrique Pena Nieto is to take over as president. The president-elect has proposed eliminating the security ministry and transferring its functions to the interior ministry.

On Wednesday the Reforma newspaper published Villarreal's statements, sent via his lawyer, on its front page. Villarreal is accused of having worked for the Beltran Leyva group, one of several powerful drug cartels.

Villarreal, a Mexican-American nicknamed "La Barbie" for his fair complexion, said that in addition to accepting bribes since 2002, senior officials at the ministry had kept goods seized in drug raids.

Villarreal was captured in Mexico on 30 August 2010 and could be extradited at any time. The security ministry claims to have dismantled his organisation.

Mexico has been gripped by an epidemic of cartel violence that has killed more than 60 000 people since 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on organised crime.


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