Mexican Mayoral Candidate Says Cartels Contact All Political Hopefuls

Mauricio Fernandez, a leading candidate for the mayoral seat of Monterrey, the richest city in Mexico, told his supporters during a frank discussion that the drug cartels had reached out to all major political contenders in the country in an effort to buy their loyalty ahead of
the July 5 elections. On that day, Mexicans will vote for 500 congressional seats, six governors and 565 mayors nationwide. A recording of the conversation was later leaked to the public.

Although Fernandez told MVS Radio, "I am stating the reality that my city is living. I don't have any reason to hide it," his campaign has been thrown into chaos by the disclosure of the conversation. He has denied meeting with cartel members since his current campaign began and claimed to reject efforts by gangsters to buy his loyalty six years prior, when he ran unsuccessfully for governor of Nuevo Leon.

On the recording, Fernandez can be heard explaining, "Drug trafficking is really endemic and they come in contact with all candidates, at least those who have a chance of winning." He then goes on to say that control that the Beltran Leyva cartel has over his suburb of San Pedro Garza
Garcia has kept the area relatively safe in comparison to other areas where the drug gangs have been weakened by the federal crackdown. Fernandez says, "They [the Beltran Leyva cartel] give a lot of importance to living in peace, that's what I understand. So that has to be seized upon—that they give a lot of importance to living in peace—and that they say: 'Well, okay, I will not sell or I'm not going to sell here.' As long as the government doesn't confront them, they accept you."

Fernandez even goes so far as to suggest that the federal government should stay out of his town, pointing out that the cartel is on board with his
campaign's plans to use local police to keep the suburb safe. Fernandez
adds that he doesn't consider the Beltran Leyva cartel members as bad
as other narcos, saying that "They don't kidnap and do all
those things."

Violence caused by the drug cartels, including the Beltran Leyva, have contributed to the deaths of more than 10,800 people since 2006. If the politicians elected in Mexico on July 5 share the same lackadaisical attitude as Fernandez, it doesn't look like the violence is going to end anytime soon.