TEN DAYS THAT SHOOK THE SCREEN
The well-documented reports from La Jornada with analysis from...
Three Armed Subjects Detained Outside Del Villar's Home
Agents of the Federal District Prosecutor's Office (PGJDF) detained three armed men with 9 mm pistols who are outside of the house of Samuel del Villar Kretchman...
The detainees are "bodyguards" of TV Azteca reporter Lily Téllez, who tried to obtain an interview with the city prosecutor.
But being required by officials of the prosecutor's office, the detainees identified themselves as agents of the Federal Attorney General "assigned to the prosecutor's office...."
Upon arriving at his home, Del Villar was reprimanded by Téllez for not giving her an interview and for having detained her "bodyguards." The Prosecutor General of Justice in the Capital informed that the apprehension was realized during an investigation of the presence of armed persons "denounced by neighbors" in the neighborhood Lomas de Chapultepec.
Around 10:15 p.m., about eight agents of the Capital prosecutor's office... arrived in front of a house on Alpes street, the home of prosecutor Samuel del Villar, where they found inside a red vehicle the three armed persons.
The reporter Lily Téllez talked with representatives of the PGJDF to know the causes of the apprehension of her "bodyguards," arguing that they guaranteed her security. Nonetheless, the three persons were aprehended and now are subject to an investigation for carrying firearms.
A little while later, Del Villar arrived at his home, where there awaited him already -- just as happened five days ago -- cameras of the TV station... Téllez denounced the prosecutor for refusing to give her an interview about "matters of the public interest," his "fear of the microphone," and "denying the right of TV Azteca to inform the Mexican people" about the Paco Stanley case.
Bothered, Del Villar criticized the attack on his "privacy," all the time that TV azteca harrassed the very doors of his house. He argued that he was in his right to grant or not grant the interview, and referred the TV reporter to the letters that the PGJDF has sent to Ricardo Salinas Pliego, president of the TV station, about the reasons why he has not granted the interview to the TV reporter.
Narco News commentary: This altercation comes on the heels of a subpoena delivered to the president of TV Azteca by Del Villar's office regarding the June 7, 1999 assassination of Paco Stanley.
Stanley, also a TV Azteca personality, was gunned down on Mexico's national "Freedom of the Press Day" last year and the TV station unleashed a full day of attacks against city officials -- of the opposition Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) -- calling on then-governor Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas to resign. That lynch campaign hit a wall when it was revealed that the body of Stanley, a key figure in the station's "Live Without Drugs" campaign, was found with cocaine on his person and in his bloodstream.
Last weekend, the federal attorney general, Jorge Madrazo Cuéllar, confirmed in an interview with El Universal that his office had information linking Stanley to high level drug trafficking and the Juárez-based cocaine cartel of Amado Carrillo.
The case continues to be the source of a fierce polemic between the TV station and the city prosecutor. On the day of the assassination, TV Azteca officials threatened Del Villar not to release the information about Stanley's cocaine to the public or they would claim the drug had been planted on him. Del Villar went forward with the case anyway.
Del Villar's investigation has opened two new fronts: One, that Stanley and other TV Azteca personalities were involved in dealing cocaine throughout the media and entertainment communities. The second, more serious, is that TV Azteca was purchased by its owner Salinas Pliego with $30 million US dollars from Raúl Salinas de Gortari, the now incarcerated brother of Mexico's former president Carlos Salinas. At question is whether that money was laundered from illicit drug proceeds.
The story is complicated, and brings almost a year of twists and turns, new evidence, and accusations on all sides: the TV station, the city government, the federal government and various personalities from the narco-trafficking and entertainment world accused of Stanley's murder. This will merit a more detailed report in The Narco News Bulletin in the near future.
On April 16th, the Washington Post reported:
Del Villar also has alleged that one of the nation's two television networks, TV Azteca, was used by former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari's brother to launder illicit money. The network has denied the charges. The former president's brother, Raul, is in prison on a murder conviction and corruption charges.
Ruling party officials say the city attorney general is using his position to launch politically motivated investigations. Del Villar has responded by accusing the ruling party of interfering in some of his highest-profile criminal cases to make his office appear ineffective.
Many questions remain: What were the gunmen doing outside the prosecutor's home? Why were federal attorney general's agents working -- or posing -- as TV Azteca bodyguards? Why does a TV Azteca reporter need bodyguards when the only employee of that station to be attacked, ever, was Stanley, who died because of his own involvement in the violent underworld of drug trafficking? The great majority of Mexican journalists work without bodyguards or any kind of official protection. Were they there as bodyguards or as espionage agents?
On the heels of yesterday's Narco News report that the Mexican "journalist" assassinated 10 days ago near Juárez City on the US border, was, in fact, on the payroll of the federal espionage agency, this latest altercation in Mexico City deepens on ongoing story. At stake, among many factors, is the credibility of the news media.
Final note: There is no report, as of Monday morning, on the TV Azteca news web site, about this incident.
DAY TWO: Tuesday May 9th
La Jornada expands upon the story
Federal agent "bodyguards" kept log of who entered prosecutor's house
TV Azteca interviews its reporter
Translated excerpts from La Jornada, May 9, 2000:
Story by Angel Bolaños and Gustavo Castillo
(same copyright as yesterday's story above)
The agents of the federal attorney general's office commissioned for the protection of Lily Téllez, TV Azteca reporter, detained on Sunday night in front of the home of Capital prosecutor Samuel del Villar, had with them a notebook detailing the persons and vehicles that entered and exited the official's house.
The city prosecutor's office informed that the red-colored Silverado vehicle, license plates 102 KHM, used by the three federal judicial police is registered in the name of the state government of Sonora for use in Mexico City, for which one part of the investigation will be sent to the authorities in that state.
Susana Manterola Piña, who speaks for the prosecutor's office, indicated that the Public Minister for the prosecution of public servants is investigating "in what capacity and why these armed subjects were positioned regularly near the house of the prosecutor," all the time that the agents had established a "regular presence" since last May 3rd, and on some ocassions without the TV conductor present.
...At 9 p.m. on Sunday the prosecutor's secretary received a call from the personell who guard the house, informing of the presence of the armed escorts of the reporter aboard the vehicle... The house guards asked the escorts to identify themselves but they refused, obeying the order of the TV conductor.
It was when the Public Minister's office arrived with city police agents that the three agents, once their 9 mm Berretas were taken, showed their credentials from the federal attorney general's office.
The credentials were granted in January of 1999 and accredit the three police as federal judicial agents charged with security functions and assigned to the office of Attorney General Jorge Madrazo.
The three agents had in their possession a notebook with at least three pages of data about the vehicles and people who had entered the home of Del Villar.
...The federal attorney general's office made an official statement that the the three police from the office of Attorney General Jorge Madrazo Cuéllar were assigned to the "personal custody" of the TV conductor Lily Téllez.... The federal agency said that the determination to assign a "bodyguard service" to the TV conductor had its origin in reports she realized related to drug trafficking between November and December of 1998 in Baja California.... According to the PGR it had evidences of risks, based on extra-official sources, that she had received various death threats, and the TV station decided to solicit protection for her.
Statements by TV conductor Lily Téllez during the nightly news of TV Azteca
(Published by La Jornada)
"I placed myself on the sidewalk, the sidewalk of his house and on the curb in front with my team, a cameraman, an assistant and my bodyguard accompanied me.
Yesterday the judicial agents that guard the house of Samuel del Villar asked me that my bodyguard show his identification. I responded that whatever the reason, they ought to give me a reason because were were not doing anything illegal.
The arrested my bodyguards. They held us up. They treated us brutally and finally they brought them in. They also seized the vehicle in which they had arrived and took that.
Question: "Why did you have a vehicle that was property of the state of Sonora?"
Téllez: "I believe that I don't have to give explanations about my private life to anyone, but here I will do it publicly, and in fact some magazines have published, in the media, that some months ago I got a divorce. I was married almost six years. I got divorced and my ex-husband is a representative of the government of the state of Sonora."
DAY THREE: Wednesday, May 10th
The Impunity of the Narco-Media
Text and headlines below translated from La Jornada
copyright 2000, Desarollo de Medios SA de CV
"Bodyguards of TV Azteca employee remanded to PGR"
The charge: accused of crimes against the administration of justice
They kept permanent watch over the house of Del Villar on orders of the TV conductor Lily Téllez
By Angel Bolaños and Elia Baltazar, La Jornada
"The three federal judicial agents assigned as bodyguards of the TV Azteca employee Lily Téllez were remanded to the Attorney General of the Republic, accused of crimes against the administration of justice, after being detained last Sunday in front of the home of Capital prosecutor Samuel del Villar
The PGR (Attorney General's office) will have to clear up the role of its agents, who appeared to maintain a permanent watch over the house of the justice prosecutor for the Federal District, on instructions from Téllez...
The accused police said that their labor was restricted only to guard the security of Lily Téllez. Nonetheless, they contradicted themselves with respect to the hours and reasons for their activities and the motives for their presence in front of Del Villar's home.
In a press release, the city prosecutor's office said... that the federal agents Raúl Durán Manzanilla, Víctor Hugo Molina Enríquez and Martín Arnoldo Martín del Río engaged in tasks distinct from their mission as bodyguards to "give protection to the TV Azteca reporter Lily Téllez," as they claimed....
Téllez, for her part, received a second citation to appear before the Public Servants Prosecutor of the Capital prosecutor's office, after she did not appear last Monday.
The authorities also await information about the case that Lily Téllez is supposedly a "protected witness" of the PGR, as she herself said to prosecutor Del Villar after reprimanding him outside of his house.
As of now the city prosecutor has not decided to press criminal charges against Téllez, but doesn't rule out this possibility, because the vehicle in which her bodyguards were found belongs to the Sonora state government, which could be evidence of a possible crime of embezzlement. The investigation, however, was sent to the authorites of that state.
The TV Azteca employee, in turn, presented to the federal Attorney General's office a complaint over the detention of her bodyguards, accusing the prosecutor Samuel del Villar, the assistant prosecutor C. Hugo Vera and the institution's press secretary Héctor Ramos.
María Lily del Carmen Téllez García accused that "a group of heavily armed persons held-up and detained the guard personnel assigned by the PGR" for her security.
"In my opinion," she said, "it is unjustifiable that the liberty of these federal public servants who accompanied me with the motive of an official job has been deprived." There, she said that the facts "signify an intimidating act against my journalistic labor."
Contrary to the declarations of Téllez, who announced in her news program about the presumed intimidations that Capital judical police subjected on her bodyguards, the city police say that at first it was the TV conductor who impeded the agents at her service from identifying themselves and, in change, asked that the city police provide their credentials.
The federal agents also refused to identify themselves, to explain the motive of their presence in front of the Capital prosecutor's house, or to show credentials documenting their function as security personnel....
For his party, the city government secretary Leonel Godoy, said that the incident inivolving TV Azteca and the PGR doesn't signal a war between institutions. He said it is about "an illegal act that attacked the privacy of one person, whether or not he is an official, and against the right that every individual has to concede an interview or not to any media outlet."
Godoy also lamented that "armed persons were used" to secure an interview with the official, in this case Samuel del Villar, who was confronted in front of his house by Lily Téllez to denounce his denial to concede her an interview and for the detention of her bodyguards.
La Jornada sidebar:
Experts: The Agents Over-Stepped their Jobs
The TV conductor also acted in an irresponsible manner, they say
excerpts from that story....
Public security officials... said that the TV conductor was irresponsible to establish over a period of days her bodyguards in front of Del Villar's home because it could have provoked a confrontation of greater consequences between the local and federal prosecutors' offices.
They recalled that in 1989, when Otto Granados Roldán assumed the job of press secretary for the government of (Mexican president) Carlos Salinas, in order to "make transparent" the relation with the media, he ordered that reporters would have to pay for transportation and lodging during their presidential trips and also ordered that the bodyguards that many reporters had at the time would not come along.
(The public security officials) said, "There are many journalists that would like to travel with free bodyguards." There are directors in the very same TV Azteca who pay for their guards from the Auxilary Police forces.
In the city Public Security Department there are personnel who do this kind of job, under contract for their service, and their form of operating is restricted to internal rules of the police force.
DAY FOUR: Thursday, May 11th
Text and headlines below translated from La Jornada
copyright 2000, Desarollo de Medios SA de CV
Order of Apprehension placed against TV Commentator Lily Téllez
The TV Azteca employee did not show up after two subpoenas by the City Prosecutor's office
Prosecutor Del Villar placed himself at the disposition of the Federal Attorney General's office
Salinas Pliego Must Show Up Today
By Elia Baltazar
May 11, 2000
The TV Azteca employee Lily Téllez will be required to show up -- by Capital Judicial Police -- for questioning regarding the facts of what happened last Sunday night in front of the home of city prosecutor Samuel Del Villar.
After Téllez did not show up for two previous subpoenas before the Prosecutor for Public Servants, authorities placed an order of apprehension so that police officers will bring her before the authorities to make her declaration.
The City Prosecutor's office also is investigating the ownership of a Chevrolet Silverado vehicle that is property of the State government of Sonora, although with Mexico City license plates, for the service of representing that state in the Capital.
Having proven this information with federal documents, the City Prosecutor's office will iniciate charges of embezzlement against Lily Téllez.
Notwithstanding, the investigation was sent to judicial authorities of Sonora to clear up the use of public resources on the part of Téllez who had commented that she made use of the vehicle because her ex-husband worked for that government's representation here.
Sources from the City Prosecutor's office also announced that Téllez had not three, but five federal judicial agents assigned as bodyguards, two of which had been resting in the moment that their companions were detained. During five days they had stayed in front of the house of prosecutor Del Villar on orders from the TV Azteca employee, according to documents of the investigation.
In fact, Lily Téllez began her "watch" on the house of the Capital prosecutor precisely after his office send a second subpoena to the president of TV Azteca, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, to declare himself in relation to the assassination of Francisco Stanley Albaitero. He did not show up the first time that his presence was solicited.
Téllez placed herself together with her bodyguards in front of the prosecutor's home, in spite of the fact that he was not in Mexico because on Wednesday, May 3rd at 3:30 p.m. he had left for the United States to comply with previous agreements with the University of Harvard Law School.
She knew that because on Tuesday May 2nd she called the offices of the prosecutor to offer thanks for an agreed interview with Del Villar about the Stanley case, an agreement that was never made.
There, "the TV Azteca employee was informed that there had been no reason to offer thanks because the prosecutor had already declined the interview...."
The prosecutor's office informed that at 9 p.m., once the prosecutor had already left the city, "TV Azteca launched a massive operation of vigilance and filming of the personal home of the prosecutor and the persons, vehicles or groundskeepers that entered or left."
...The press release also informed that Del Villar has already placed himself at the disposition of federal Attorney General Jorge Madrazo Cuéllar to offer testimony and cooperate in the demand placed against him (by Téllez) and in the case of the federal judicial agents.
For his part, Salinas Pliego will have to declare himself today before the Public Minister... the same as five other employees and directors of TV Azteca.
They are: Jorge Mendoza Garza, communications and public affairs director; Tristán Canales Nájar, vice president of news; Beatriz Amezcua Rodríguez, studio director; Alejandra Lisette Ordorica Rodríguez, reporter: Bernardo Peña Cisneros, cameraman; and Martin Luna Ortigoza, director of production and channels of TV Azteca.
Original Documents on the Case
Link to original documents in Spanish from the Mexico City prosecutor's web site:
Press release upon incident may 8th: click here
Statement on the captured "bodyguards" transfer to federal authorities: click here
Press release as the plot thickens on May 10: click here
DAY FIVE: TV Azteca's Response
translated full text of TV Azteca "news" story as it appears on their web site
City Prosecutor subpoenas journalist Lilly Téllez
Mexico City, May 11 (FIA): The City Prosecutor subpoenaed the journalist Lilly Téllez in relation to the incident last Sunday in front of the house of the Capital prosecutor Samuel del Villar.
The news conductor said, "This demonstrated evidence that Samuel del Villar and Hugo Vera use the power they have right now to intimidate me, to scare me. I don't understand why I was subpoenaed to declare because I suffered the attack."
The content of the interogatory is still unclear, but for Lilly Téllez there is not a question or judicial order that will stop her intention to untangle the Stanley case. "I am going to continue working on my investigation and they won't succeed in intimidating me," she said.
See Miguel Angel Granados Chapa's column on the TV Azteca scandal, and continued Narco News updates: click here
Days 5-10 amply covered throughout the site
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