In a massive development in Mexico City, Simón Pedro de León Mojarro, the former coordinator of Sedesol delegations during Rosario Robles' administration, found himself in hot water. The Attorney General's Office swooped in and captured him in the upscale neighborhood of Lomas de Chapultepec. The reason? His involvement in the notorious “Estafa Maestra” or the “Master Swindle” case.
Four arrest warrants were out for de León, but the Federal Attorney's general Office (FGR) executed one of them, charging him with the misuse of powers and faculties. All related to a juicy contract handed out to the Intercultural University of the State of Mexico (UIEM). Rumor has it that more than 124 million pesos mysteriously vanished into thin air.
The arrest took place yesterday at the crack of dawn, 11:57 a.m. to be precise, on Avenida Paseo de las Palmas. De León was living the low-key life in navy-blue pants, black shoes, and a white polo shirt with blue and red stripes, according to the police report.
He must have thought he'd get away with it, but his legal woes were just beginning. By 00:30 on Tuesday, he found himself in an initial hearing before the no-nonsense control judge, Juan José Hernández Leyva, at the Federal Criminal Justice Center of Reclusorio Sur. And guess what? He got the VIP treatment: an all-expenses-paid trip to the penitentiary, where he'll await his fate until the grand showdown this Saturday.
But his isn't the end of the story. There are three more arrest warrants with de León's name on them, each one juicier than the last.
One of those warrants involves organized crime and the laundering of a cool 77.8 million pesos. The money was supposedly for a contract with the Universidad Autónoma de Morelos, where they were supposed to conduct surveys of social program beneficiaries. However, most of those surveys never saw the light of day.
Another arrest warrant, one for the ages, is related to improper use of powers and faculties. In this case, a contract of 52.2 million pesos with the Autonomous University of Zacatecas is under the microscope. The FGR claims that a whopping 26.6 million pesos vanished without a trace.
Let's not forget that Simón Pedro de León Mojarro is no ordinary guy. He's a seasoned politician who's dabbled in both PRI and PRD waters. He's even the brother-in-law of the former Governor of Zacatecas, Miguel Alonso. Oh, and during Ricardo Monreal's reign as governor in the state, de León was Secretary of Planning and Regional Development.
So, what's all the fuss about in the “Master Swindle” case?
It all revolves around a contract inked on March 5, 2015, where Sedesol paid a cool 124 million 100 thousand pesos to the Intercultural University of the State of Mexico (UIEM). Their mission: to carry out the Single Socioeconomic Information Questionnaires (CUIS) in rural and semi-urban areas. These surveys would help Sedesol identify and locate the extreme food-poor across 32 states.
However, the FGR alleges that the UIEM went a bit too far, subcontracting more than 49 percent of the original contract amount – a strict no-no according to the Regulations of the Law of Acquisitions, Leasing, and Services of the Public Sector.
As the story goes, the UIEM farmed out a staggering 122 million 650 thousand 300 pesos to seven companies and two individuals between March 6 and December 14, 2015. The list of names reads like a who's who of contractors: AM Sistemas Informáticos, B-Tech Comunicaciones, D&P México Servicios Digitales, Nerta Consultores, Servicios Empresariales, Servers Estrategias Profesionales, Servicios Especializados Humandra, and Fiore Especialistas.
The Superior Audit Office of the Federation threw its weight behind the FGR's case, revealing that the UIEM failed to provide information on subcontracts worth 13 million 943 thousand 700 pesos. They also presented documents for an expenditure of 47 million 483 thousand 800 pesos, but those papers didn't quite add up.
And here's the kicker: of the remaining 61 million 222 thousand 800 pesos, it turns out that AM Sistemas Informáticos delivered booklets that had content straight off the internet – in other words, fake receipts. The Prosecutor's Office cried foul, accusing Sedesol of improper contracting, which ended up costing the state, not just money but also quality and financing conditions.
So, as we eagerly await the unfolding saga of de León's legal journey, it's clear that the “Master Swindle” case is far from over. In the world of Mexican politics, where power games and intrigue are the norm, this might just be one of the most thrilling chapters yet. Stay tuned for more twists and turns.