Mexican governor says predecessor made deals with gangs

Jan 17, 2022, 1:47 AM | Updated: 3:48 pm
FILE - Former Mexican soccer star Cuauhtemoc Blanco, center, arrives to a government office to pre-...

FILE - Former Mexican soccer star Cuauhtemoc Blanco, center, arrives to a government office to pre-register his candidacy for mayor of Cuernavaca, Mexico, Jan. 22, 2015. Blanco who is now the governor of the Mexican state of Morelos, has asked Mexico´s Attorney General on Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, to investigate an accusation against him regarding a supposed connection with drug traffickers after a 3-year-old photo of him and three men who are supposed to be local drug dealer surfaced. (AP Photo/Tony Rivera, File)

(AP Photo/Tony Rivera, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The governor of Mexico’s Morelos state claimed Monday his predecessor and the previous police chief negotiated with a drug gang.

Gov. Cuauhtémoc Blanco had himself been forced to deny any drug links earlier 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 ex-governor Graco Ramirez had made deals with a gang known as “The Reds.”

Blanco appeared at prosecutors’ offices to ask they 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.

Morelos, just south of Mexico City, was once known for its balmy climate, and as a quiet weekend getaway for Mexico City residents. But over the last two decades it has been plagued by 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 same 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 allegedly 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, noting “I didn’t even know who he was, but because I’m such a good guy, I take photos with everyone.”

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,” Blanco 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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Mexican governor says predecessor made deals with gangs