A day after the deportation to the United States of one of the world’s most wanted drug lords, this country was awash with speculation that he will make explosive revelations that could shake Mexico’s political establishment.
Cocaine baron Juan Garcia Abrego’s testimony could help shed some light - or lay to rest - claims that Mexico’s drug cartels were behind political assassinations that have rocked Mexico in recent years, including the killing of Guadalajara Archbishop Jesus Posadas Ocampo or the murder of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, investigators say.
Garcia Abrego, the 51-year-old billionaire boss of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, made his first appearance before a U.S. court in Houston on Tuesday, where he was notified of 20 charges against him. A new hearing was set for Feb. 6.
The circumstances of his arrest late Sunday in Monterrey, where anti-drug agents found him without bodyguards, suggest that he was confident that he enjoyed protection from powerful people, officials say.
Garcia Abrego, whose cartel is estimated by Mexican officials to make more than $10 billion a year, was probably linked to powerful politicians of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, sources close to the investigation say.
“The reason Mexico deported him so quickly is that the government feared he would bribe his way out of prison,” said one foreign diplomat following the case. “There was also fear that if he began to talk, there would be questions on whether the government was tampering with his testimony to protect friends or incriminate adversaries.”
The decision to send Garcia Abrego to the United States was made by President Ernesto Zedillo almost immediately after the arrest.