PRI figure reported arrested with Mexican drug lord’s cousin

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MEXICO CITY -- The Mexican press was having a field day Friday with reports from Spain that a cousin of one of the world’s most powerful drug lords was arrested in Madrid along with a politician with the party of President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto.

The arrested politician, Rafael Celaya Valenzuela, was a mid-level figure in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the state of Sonora. Newspapers were quick to publish on their websites photographs that Celaya had posted on his Facebook page, showing him with Peña Nieto.

Peña Nieto’s people were almost as quick to disavow any knowledge of Celaya’s alleged criminal activities (link in Spanish). The candidate posed for ‘hundreds of thousands’ of photographs during the campaign, the PRI said in a statement, and so the pictures with Celaya were meaningless.

Celaya had applied to become the PRI’s Sonora candidate for the federal legislature in the July 1 vote, but the party rejected his bid, the statement added. Mexico’s Reforma newspaper reported that the candidacy was rejected because Celaya had misspelled his name.


Celaya was arrested in Madrid along with a man identified by Spanish police as Jesus Gutierrez Guzman, cousin of Joaquin ‘Chapo’ Guzman, fugitive billionaire head of the vast Sinaloa cartel. Two other alleged members of the cartel were also captured.

The Spanish El Pais newspaper quoted authorities as saying the men were tasked with expanding the cartel’s movement of cocaine into Europe through Spain (link in Spanish). The arrests came as part of an operation dubbed Dark Waters and conducted by the Spanish police and the American FBI, El Pais said.


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