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Mexican drug lord in Spain: “Go there and kill her”

Alleged Zetas boss in Europe ordered killings, beatings and kidnappings from Spanish base

Further details have emerged of the scale and violence of the criminal activities of Mexican national Juan Manuel Muñoz, arrested by Spanish police in March on charges of money laundering and drug trafficking for a number of Mexican drug cartels, among them the Zetas. EL PAÍS has been given access to telephone conversations between Muñoz, known as El Mono (The Monkey), made during his stay in an upscale gated community outside Madrid and henchmen in Mexico

contabilidad de los Zetas Ampliar foto
Juan Manuel Muñoz (right) in Madrid in March 2015.

During these conversations, he ordered beatings, torture, kidnappings and murders to be carried out. Muñoz is currently being held in a Spanish jail and US authorities have requested his extradition.

Muñoz made his calls using PGP encryption, but Spanish authorities were able to listen in and record several conversations. In one, made on June 27, 2014 he tells a man named Gustavo, whose father is with him, that he will be held until he repays a debt of some €1.1 million.

-Muñoz: If you were standing in front of me I would kill you. And you, with all due respect [referring to the father] your son is worth less than nothing. What’s going to happen now? Now he is going to be taken away and they are going to keep him until he pays. Is that clear?

Muñoz has been linked to several judges and senior officials in Mexico

-Gustavo: I am right here listening.

-Muñoz: Good, you are going to be collateral until you return what you owe me and with the costs incurred. You are a pile of lies and deception. I warned you, but no, you wouldn’t listen. I gave you the chance to sort this out…

-Gustavo: Give me a chance.

-Muñoz: No, no, no. What last opportunity? What are you going to do? Sell your soul? What are you going to sell? Where are you going to find 24 million pesos? Where?

-Gustavo: At least let me try. Give me time.

-Muñoz: Time? Go to your bank and ask them for time. I told you, they’re going to come and take you away, and until you pay you won’t be going back. It’s a shame, because I liked you and your family, all of them you bastard, and I warned you that this would be your grave, you son of a bitch, you went broke…

In another conversation, Muñoz asks about Mexican federal police officers in his pay

The Spanish and US authorities say that aside from his drug trafficking activities Muñoz runs a chain of filling stations in Coahuila – the state bordering Texas – that he uses to launders money. In a number of the conversations he tells his henchmen to deal with employees accused of stealing from him. On November 28, 2014, Muñoz received a call in which he is told that his men have visited the home of the uncle of somebody they were looking for, and had given him a “shock”, suggesting that this would encourage the wrongdoer to give himself up.

Muñoz was arrested in Spain as part of a wide-ranging investigation that established links between the Zetas drug cartel, which Muñoz is accused of working for, and Humberto Moreira, the former governor of Coahuila. Moreira was arrested in Madrid in January, although he was released conditionally later and then absolved by High Court judge Santiago Pedraz who found insufficient evidence of wrongdoing by the former PRI president or links to the Zetas.

In another conversation, Muñoz asks about Mexican federal police officers in his pay and is told: “They couldn’t come with us today, but Zamora talked to them to tell them to be ready to catch him.” Muñoz then adds: “His family needs to go as well.”

Now he is going to be taken away and they are going to keep him until he pays

Juan Manuel Muñoz

From Muñoz’s conversations, he appears to have ordered his nephew, Salomón Ayup to murder a public prosecutor in Coahuila in the Zetas’ pay who failed to warn the latter that an arrest warrant had been issued against him. “Go there and kill her,” Muñoz tells him. The Spanish authorities immediately informed their Mexican counterparts of the order, but there was no response. The fate of the public prosecutor is not known.

The Spanish police say they have linked Muñoz with several judges and senior officials in Mexico as a result of their phone tap. At the house where he was arrested, police found several Excel spreadsheets detailing the handover at a number of hotels in Mexico City of €63 million obtained from the sale of more than two tons of cocaine in Europe.

English version by Nick Lyne.

Fe de errores

Due to a translation error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Humberto Moreira was freed from custody and escaped charges thanks to the direct intervention of the Mexican embassy and government. This has now been corrected. Apologies to our readers for the mistake.

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