, 21 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Lost in yesterday's deluge of testimony about presidential bribes at the Chapo trial was the tantalizing tale of a bit character who may have been involved in the payoffs: Andrea Velez Fernandez. Her only-in-cartel-land story is worth re-visiting.
Andrea's main job was as an assistant to the Colombian drug lord Alex Cifuentes, the witness who dropped the bomb that Chapo paid $100 million to former president Enrique Pena Nieto. She also ran a modeling agency, Alex said, that sent "female friends" to a top Mexican general.
Alex also said Andrea had some sort of working relationship w/a political consultant, JJ Rendon, who worked on Pena Nieto's campaign. He said around the 2012 elections Andrea sent him pics of suitcases filled w/cash. But he seemed unsure if the money was meant for Pena Nieto.
But Chapo had used Andrea before as his go-between for payoffs. Alex said Chapo wanted Andrea to offer the general she was supplying w/women a $10 million bribe. We even saw texts between Andrea and Chapo where he's asking her if she's set up the meeting with the general yet.
While the general apparently refused the bribe, Andrea is now cooperating w/the US government. It's unclear/unlikely that she, too, will appear as a trial witness, but obviously there's more to this story than has been revealed. And Andrea may know many of the details.
Cifuentes is an astonishing character too. Born into a major narco family, he began drying and packing kilos of coke at age 10. As a teen, he was thrilled when Pablo Escobar's righthand man moved into his building in Medellin. Alex said he used to go bowling w/Pablo's bodyguards.
Though he spent 40 years in the drug trade, he once planned to describe his occupation (on a Mexican citizenship application) as a seller of "submersible plants" (whatever those are...)
Alex admitted on cross-examination that the prosecutors in the case had coached him not to be combative w/Chapo's lawyers. But as a true Colombia macho that didn't really work.
When Jeff Lichtman, one of the lawyers, confronted Alex w/the fact that he once got a US visa w/a fake ID, Alex retorted, "I was the fake one. The documents were good."
He summed things up by saying that even though he'd made a lot of money as a drug trafficker, he spent much of it on cars, watches and other gifts for his various girlfriends.
"A good life," he offered with a shrug.
Alex will be back on the witness stand at 9:30 am for more of this madness. Stay tuned.
It's almost impossible to believe the life Alex is describing here is real. He said this morning he once planned to work w/two twin brothers in the Mafia shipping coke to Canada "fused in plastic cubes." He said his family had a Colombian general on a monthly retainer for years.
He said he was once w/his oldest brother Pacho at a restaurant near an airport when Pacho gave "a box of cash" to a DEA agent. Alex said he wasn't sure if the cash was a bribe or just "a gift."
Even in a Mexican prison in 2014 he took a job from a top aide of Mr. Guzman's late ally, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, to help collect $18 million owed to him by Colombian traffickers. There were also hints he drugged inmates in a Colombian prison but the govt stopped that line of ?.
When Alex joined Chapo in the mts, Chapo was living very simply, he said.
Plastic folding chairs, simple bed, old-fashioned tube TV.
It was only after Alex, a worldlier sort, showed up that Chapo got a plasma-screen TV. Chapo didn't even know what a plasma screen was, he said.
Alex was, after all, a Cifuentes, Colombian narco royalty. The family needs a reality TV show.
Here is a typical Cifuentes family story.
Bear with me. It will take a couple of tweets.
Alex once suspected his niece's boyfriend was an informant so he ordered his nephew, Jaime, to kill him.
Years later, Alex began to suspect Jaime too was an informant and ordered him killed. Jaime had also ordered the abduction of Alex's mom, his own grandmother.
Who did Alex ask to kill Jaime?
Well, of course, Jaime's cousin, Sebastian, one of Alex's other nephews.
The Cifuentes family....
One of Alex's jobs was helping Chapo and a Colombian producer, Javier Ray, write book about the kingpin in order to turn it into a movie. Alex described being at a story meeting with the two in 2012. Chapo was riffing on his life. It was wild stuff.
According Alex, Chapo told the producer he was once arrested by the Mexican army in Nayarit. The soldiers, Chapo said, smashed his hands w/rifle butts then tied his feet by rope to the bottom of a helicopter and flew him upside down.
(This could be Hollywood talk. But still.)
Let's end the lunch break w/a fun fact.
Alex said that Damaso Lopez Nunez, another one of Chapo's top aides, once made "Cartel de Sinaloa" hats and t-shirts for the kingpin's inner circle.
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