Original article available at Proceso, Written by Andrew Kennis
Translated by El Wachito
He was friends with some of the most prominent Panistas (members of the PAN party) while laundering money for the Cartel del Milenio. Marco Antonio Delgado, was also an informant for the Office of Immigration and Customs and a boyfriend of Ms. Lilian de la Concha, who is ex-wife of former president Vicente Fox. His history, according to the documents provided by the Texas court, show the hypocrisy of the informant system of the United States, which allowed Delgado to continue with his illegal activities until he was stopped.
The hidden story behing the lawyer Marco Antonio Delgado was expose during the trial conducted by the Texas Federal court: while maintaining a relationship with Lilian De la Concha – ex wife of former President Vicente Fox-, he was laundering millions of dollars, he maintained contacts within the Cartel del Milenio and he was an informant for the Office of Immigration and Customs (ICE).
Even more shocking was the fact that ICE allowed him to continue laundering money while he was an informant from septermber 2007 to july 2008, according to documents consulted by the journalist Andrew Kennis.
In Januray, 2014 a federal court in el Paso, declared Delgado guilty of laundering 600 millions of dollars and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. However, Delgado appealed the decision of the fifth court and in may of 2015 he received a reduction of 4 years.
Delgado is currently facing another trial for money laundering, not related to anterior cases. En his new case, authorities are accusing Delgado of negotiating 121 millions of dollars as a legal representative of FGG Enterprises inc., with the Comision Federal de Electricidad (CFE) a Mexican government energy agency. The contract pretended to install an energy plant in Agua Prieta, in Sorona and it was a tool that Delgado used in an illegal manner to deposit money in the Turk and Caicos islands.
“El Chico” Victor Pimental was 29 years old and a student at the University of Texas, in El Paso. In Septermber of 2007 he was stopped by the Atlanta Police. He was driving a car with Mexican plates and was ordered to pull over by David Elliot, a cop from Carroll county.
Elliot requested Pimentel for his license but he started showing signs of nervousness. Instead of giving the cop his drivers licence, he pulled out a picture of his daughter of two months and he show it to the cop. According to the testimony of the cop before the court, Pimentel was literally shaking and he told the cop that he had almost 1 million dollars in his back seat: there is big stacks of money pack in lunch bags. An ICE investigation unit on money laundering offered Pimentel a good shower, a delicious breakfast and an offer for him to become an informant.
Pimental was Delgado's right hand and he was the main witness used by the Texas court against Delgado.
Pimental had a fake educational degree that was bought by Delgado in the known Plaza de Santo Domingo, in downtown of Mexico City. And even though Pimentel had frequent meetings with high level drug traffickers and had even lied to investors and businessman about him being a legal representative, that crucial day that he pulled over by Elliot, he failed to carry on an important money laundering operation.
ICE agents referred to Pimentel as “The boy”, because he was really young and naïve, explained to the court and ICE agent from Atlanta identified as Alex Ascencio.
“A successful immigrant” Delgado history was that of a successful immigrant. Born in Mexico City, he emigrated to the United States at the age of 16. He studied law at Carnegie Mellon University. In march of 2005 he began his career as an independent lawyer and he established his offices in el Paso and in Mexico City. He was also a member of the council of his administration at his alma mater. he was a recognized philanthropist who was in charge of collecting money for scholarships destined to Latino students.
|Delgado donated 250000 USD to establish the Marco Delgado Fellowship (Photo taken from the CMU website)|
Delgado was also an adviser to the ex-governor of Texas, Ann Richards. According to Delgado, he also advise public functionaries of Mexico, including the transition team of 2012 of the elected President, Enrique Peña Nieto, according to the curriculum that he turn into Carnegie Mellon University. Ken Walters, spokesman of the university, confirmed to CBS news that Delgado provided the university with the biography, and that he requested a period of absence to collaborate with the elected Mexican president. Eduardo Sanchez, spokesman of the Mexican Presidency, denied to CBS such links. Peña Nieto's government didn't answer any questions to the journalists.
In 2002, Delgado's life changed when he met the ex president Vicente fox, first wife, Lilian De La Concha. Witnesses swore in under jury claimed that De la Concha was introduced to Delgado by Nareo Vargas, who was the leader of Sindicato Unico de Trabajadores Electricistas de la Republica Mexicana (SUTERM). Delgado knew Vargas since they were kids.
|Marco Delgado and Lilian De la Concha|
Due to the fact that De la Concha was well connected to prominent members of the Partido Accion Nacional (PAN), Delgado had the opportunity to network with several of them. That's how he also met, Felipe Calderon. In fact, Calderon, Delgado and De la Concha appear together in a picture taken in September of 2006, such picture is now being used in the case against Delgado.
During the case, it was revealed that De la Concha sent e-mails to members of Felipe's Calderon cabinet, Jalisco ex governor, and the Ambassador of Spain, Francisco Ramirez Acuña to try to convince them to hire Marco Delgado for lobbying duties in Washington, D.C. (Document 122, of case 3:12-cr-02106)
As BrothersAccording to court witnesses under the Court of Texas, Delgado and De la Concha designed plans to delay the extradition of prominent drug lords, and to launder millions of dollars that came from the sale of drugs. There was no mention of the drug lords that they were trying to protect.
Suppodsely, the person of most trust of Delgado was Pimentel. Delgado utilize him to cover himself and to make money laundering deals. His relationship was describe by the court as that of an older brother with a younger brother.
During their business and friendship relationships, according to the court- Delgado invited Pimentel to a luxury thanksgiving dinner party in a ski resort in Ruidoso, Nuevo Mexico; he took him a “frequent reunions” with cartel representatives and he sent him in private and commercial flights to destinations such as Turk and Caicos islands. Those are the places where Delgado and Pimentel deposited money in banks that were protected from supervision of US authorities.
Pimentel describe the period as a “period of exploration”. For him, such reunions were similar to job interviews and he confessed that he was impressed by the high level of the people of the cartels that he was working with. But they started to spend long periods of time working with them and that made him nervous, he said. Delgado told him to calm down: once the deal was settle, everything will be okay.
According to the testimony of Pimentel (Document 121 del caso 3:12-cr-02106), there was no direct link with the Milenio Cartel till the end of the “period of exploration”. This happened during the spring of 2007, when Delgado and Pimentel met with a drug lord from the Milenio Cartel known only by El Chuy (his real name was never revealed in court). The reunion was conducted at the Camino Real hotel of Mexico city and several business partners of De la Concha were present.
Controlled deliveries under ICE supervisionAfter authorities confiscated the money that Pimentel was transporting in the backseats of his vehicles, ICE recruited him as an informant. The investigators weren't impressed with “El Chico” and they wanted to make their way into Delgado. Thanks to Pimentel, they were able get close to Delgado.
“Next afternoon we boarded a plane. My cop partner, homeland security officers, and ICE agents carried the money. We took it to El Paso and we proceeded the steps to make a “controlled delivery”. Explained Elliot during his testimony in the court in reference to the fact that they gave the money back to Pimentel in order for him to deliver it to Delgado and then to return it to the Milenio Cartel.
An helicopter followed Pimentel, along with Delgado, they drove by Mesa street, the principal street of Paso, pretending to deliver the money. It was September 7 of 2007, just a couple of days after Pimentel's detention in Atlanta, and Delgado didn't know anything. The plan was to cross into Mexico with the money and take it to Colima, the headquarters of the Milenio Cartel.
When Pimentel delivered the money, the ICE agents intercept him, Delgado was nervous just like his employee in Atlanta and soon he was at the offices of ICE in El Paso. It was no surprise to anyone that Delgado also accepted to become an informant.
However, the agents complained about Delgado. They claimed that Delgado had an arrogant attitude. Things got worse when they decided that the information that Delgado was giving was not good enough.
During Ascencios testimony, he claimed that the investigations are not going anywhere and he felt that his security and the security of his partners were at risk. He only thing he was able to accomplish was a meeting between Ascencio and several members of the Milenio Cartel in the McAllen city of Texas. Isidro Vega, who was identified as a cousin of el Chuy was present at the meeting.
However a few weeks after the meeting, the contact with Ascencio vanished. During his time as an ICE informant, Delgado continue to launder money.
During the court session, Debra Kanof a public proseccutor ask Ascencio if it was commong for an imformant to continue his illicit activities and them for informing the agency?
Ascencio replied: “Yes”.
Kanof ask again: “Its really common?”
Ascencio afirmed again.
Even though the revelations were made, no legal action was taken against Delgado, till july of 2008 when Pimentel revealed to ICE another delivering of money. It was a second “controlled delivery” organized by ICE, however it was not “authorized” by the dependency: this meant that it was not conducted to protect Delgado and an undecover informant, but to coolect evidence against him, evidence that was key to prosecute him.
The agents didnt like Delgado and his cooperation didnt take them anywhere, so they wanted to catch him….. and they did.
The “controlled delivery” of Pimentel almost failed when the cartel contact notice that Delgado was being followed by ICE agents. The man that was going to receive the money, identify as Martell, threw the bag with 50 thousand dollars, and ran away. He was arrested by the agent moments later. But now the agents had clear evidence against delgado because this was not an authorized delivery in Chicago and this key evidence drove him to his sentence.
New caseFor Ken Rijock- a lawyer who launders millions of dollars for colombian cartels and author of the book “The laundy man”- theres a series of lessons and thoughts that can be learned from Delgado's case. This case exposes a “small and dirty subworld of the application of the law, because it was a shame that Delgado was able to launder huge quantities of money before being arrested, while actiong as a confidential informant of the government”, said Rijock to Proceso magazine.
He was not only a local lawyer, but an international one”, because he had access to the family of the president and PAN. He considers that the coming case will expose other parts of the operation, “because he is also involved with a public service agency (CFE).
In regard of the future of Delgado, this second process against him accusses him of laundering dozens of millions of dollars. He could spend more than 20 years in prison. However, taking in consideration potential reductions in sentence due to good conduct, the appeal that he won, and a possible succesful defense, he could leave jail in six years.