Former Mexican state official accused
Anti-crime activists in Mexico say they have audio proof that the former attorney general of coastal Tabasco state was in league with drug traffickers while in office.
An audio recording aired this week purportedly contains a telephone conversation between the former state prosecutor, Gustavo Rosario Torres, and a deputy as they discussed an expected payment from an apparent cocaine deal.
The recording was played during a news conference by activist Jose Antonio Ortega Sanchez, who heads a Mexico City-based group called the Citizens Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice. It is one of two audio recordings that Ortega’s group and a second civic organization say are evidence of corruption by Rosario Torres, who served as Tabasco’s prosecutor before he resigned last month.
The recording that is said to capture a conversation between Rosario Torres and the deputy state attorney general, Alex Alvarez, has the two men discussing an awaited delivery of cash.
The scratchy-sounding audio files have been posted, with added transcription in the original Spanish, on the website of a Mexican online magazine, Reporte Indigo.
Rosario Torres, a member of the once-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, who headed the state development office before becoming attorney general in 2007, denies the recordings are authentic.
In a radio interview this week, he said he was not certain if the voice on the tape was his, but suggested the recording was a collection of sound bits assembled to falsely implicate him in drug trafficking. He called the recording a “grotesque montage.”
In one section, the voice purportedly belonging to Rosario Torres asks, “You know what I’m talking about, right?”
“The cocaine,” says the first man, who goes on to describe a payment schedule: “One hundred thousand now and 100,000 within a week.”
He does not specify the currency.
The second recording is allegedly of a conversation between Alvarez and a lawyer the activists allege is acting on behalf of drug traffickers from the so-called Gulf cartel, one of Mexico’s main smuggling groups and a key target of President Felipe Calderon’s 20-month-old offensive against organized drug mafias.
Tabasco Gov. Andres Granier Melo, a close political ally and a member of the PRI, has defended Rosario Torres, saying the recording could easily have been faked. The governor’s office issued a statement this week saying Rosario Torres had served as attorney general “with loyalty, honesty, professionalism and adherence to the law.”
Ortega and a second anti-crime activist, Guillermo Velasco Arzac, this week filed a formal complaint against Rosario Torres, Alvarez and the lawyer, Francisco Javier Estrada Sanchez, calling on federal authorities to open an investigation. The complaint alleges that the recordings demonstrate Rosario Torres’ ties to organized crime.
The activists said the recordings were given to them but did not say by whom. The federal attorney general’s office has not commented on the case.
Rosario Torres, who once was mayor of the municipality that includes the state capital, Villahermosa, cited personal reasons when he resigned as attorney general.
Tabasco, which sits on the Gulf of Mexico, has witnessed increasingly severe violence, including decapitations, that has been attributed to rivalries between drug-trafficking groups over access to smuggling routes. A traditional PRI stronghold, it is known for a history of political corruption.