A major leak of Mexican government documents revealed that members of the military sold weapons and information to the cartels.
“Sedena [Secretariat of National Defense] reported in its confidential report that the supplier of weapons and tactical equipment is another alleged member of the Army, whom the criminals refer to as “antiguo” and who, according to the analysis of his telephone signal, is based in Campo Military No. 1 of Mexico City,” according to the documents.
The information came to light following a security breach at the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), in which hackers from a group calling itself Guacamaya acquired more than four million confidential documents from the government, Mexican outlet Vallarta Daily reported.
One of the documents was an intelligence report from June 2019 that stated a military officer offered tactical equipment, weapons and information on armed forces operations to drug cartels.
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At one point, a cartel leader asked the military for 2,000 rounds of ammunition for AK-47 rifles, 5,000 for the R-15 and 50 magazines for each type of rifle.
The report also mentioned a colonel known as the “new commander” for whom the cartel acted as an escort for about two weeks. The report described him as a man with a love of “drinks, smoking” and is “into everything.”
The data leak also revealed that defense groups standing in opposition to the cartels received training from contractors of presumably Russian origin. Emails dated from Aug. 24, 2022 identified four men who trained the Tlacotepec Community Police over a nearly two-week period in May of this year.
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However, the secretariat also identified a relationship between the group’s leader, Salvador Alanis Trujillo, and the Sierra Cartel, the Mexico Daily Post reported.
Sedena identified one of the Russian men as Bogdanov Rustam, who is linked with the European Bodyguard and Security Association. Despite Rustam’s more official affiliation, the Sedena has opened an investigation into his possible links to organized crime.
Rustam allegedly served as an operator in the Russian special forces and anti-terrorism units.
Officials identified another of the instructors as Antonio Rullan Dichter, a businessman and honorary consul of the Russian Federation as well as the criminal group Los Rusos, an opponent of the Sierra Cartel.
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The men do not appear to have direct ties to the Russian government, but Mexico has previously raised concerns over Russian influence and presence within its borders.
A report from Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of the U.S. Northern Command, told the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services in March that Mexico was host to “the largest portion of GRU members in the world,” Business Insider reported.
VanHerck could not specify the number of spies, but he stressed that the operatives in Mexico “keep an eye very closely on their opportunities to have influences on U.S. opportunities and access.”