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Mexican governor says predecessor made deals with gangs

Former Mexican soccer star Cuauhtemoc Blanco
Former soccer star Cuauhtemoc Blanco, center, arrives at a government office to pre-register his candidacy for mayor of Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 2015. Blanco is now the governor of the Mexican state of Morelos.
(Tony Rivera / Associated Press)

The governor of Mexico’s Morelos state claimed Monday that his predecessor and the previous police chief negotiated with a drug gang.

Gov. Cuauhtémoc Blanco had himself been forced to deny any drug links this month after a 3-year-old photo surfaced showing him posing with three men identified as local drug gang leaders. But Blanco went on the offensive Monday, claiming former Gov. Graco Ramirez had made deals with a gang known as “The Reds.”

Blanco appeared at prosecutors’ offices to ask them to investigate any allegations against him, saying, “I have nothing to hide, I don’t make deals with criminals.”

Blanco also accused the former state police chief, Alberto Capella, of being in on the deals.

Capella said that was a lie intended to divert attention from Blanco’s own problems. In his Twitter account, Capella called Blanco “ignorant, corrupt and perverse,” and said that under Ramirez’s 2012-2018 administration, police had combatted the Reds with vigor.

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Morelos, just south of Mexico City, has a balmy climate and was once known as a quiet weekend getaway for Mexico City residents. But over the last two decades, its image has changed with the rise in kidnappings, extortion and killings.

A former Mexican national soccer team star, Blanco won the governorship of Morelos in 2018 after retiring from soccer. A photo from October of that year shows him smiling and locking arms with three men, one of whom is under arrest and another who was killed in prison.

The third man is reportedly still alive and leading a gang called the Tlahuica Command that may have been involved in the 2019 killing of a community activist.

The newspaper El Sol de Mexico says the photo was found on the telephone of another drug suspect.

Blanco ascribed the photo to the dangers of being a former soccer star who would never deny a fan a photo op.

“I have taken a lot of photos as a soccer player,” Blanco said. He recalled a time when he was seen in a photo along with a son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. “I didn’t even know who he was, but because I’m such a good guy, I take photos with everyone,” the governor said.

Asked by reporters when and where the photo published this week was taken — it appears to be indoors, in an office or dining room — Blanco said “I don’t know, I swear, I don’t even remember.”

“I take a lot of photos [with people], and I am not going to be asking them, ‘Hey, who are you and what do you do for a living?’” Blanco said.

“I am going to continue taking photos,” he said defiantly. “Perhaps more will come out.”

Blanco previously served as mayor of the state capital, Cuernavaca. During his professional soccer career he was known for his pugnacious, combative style. As governor, Blanco has been criticized for naming former soccer associates to state posts.


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