Sara Olimpia Reyes Garcia, magistrate of the Specialized Criminal Court of the State of Mexico, confirmed that the former judge of Jalisco Isidro Avelar Gutierrez will have to face trial for his alleged links with the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel (CJNG), from whom he allegedly also received bribes.
When resolving the appeal filed by Avelar Gutiérrez against the Prosecutor’s Office, issued on November 18, 2019, Reyes García also ordered the preventive detention of Avelar Gutiérrez, considering him a risk of flight. Avelar Gutiérrez was arrested on November 22, 2019 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, by agents of the Attorney General’s Office (FGR).
He has also been suspended from his duties without pay since last May. The Federal Judicial Council (CJF) indicated that he was transferred to Mexico City for judicial processing. The CJF explained that the judge’s detention was derived from a complaint filed on May 24, 2019 by “financial irregularities and additional income”.
On November 28, 2019, Avelar Gutiérrez was formally charged and admitted to the Federal Center for Social Readaptation No. 4 (also known as “The corner”), A maximum security prison in the municipality of Tepic, Nayarit. Avelar Gutiérrez was also sanctioned under the United States Department of the Treasury’s Foreign Narcotics Capos Designation Act for his alleged money laundering ties with the head of the CJNG, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “The Mencho”. Almost simultaneously, Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) froze Avelar Gutiérrez’s bank accounts after they noticed a deposit for 70 million pesos, an amount that did not coincide with the income he received from the Mexican government.
The case against Avelar Gutiérrez was opened after the authorities detected cases in which the judges had property and other assets that did not correspond to their income. Investigators concluded that these judges were likely receiving money from members of organized crime in exchange for favorable rulings in their trials.
Between 2010 and 2016, Avelar Gutiérrez acquired assets for more than 18 million. During this time, he ordered the release of Juan Francisco Aguilar Santana (“Juan Pistolas”), one of the men from Oseguera’s closet. According to the investigation, Avelar Gutiérrez was in charge of the Sixth Unit Court of the Third Circuit based in Jalisco, and attended at least 10 cases of detainees linked to the CJNG.
In the case of Juan Pistolas, Avelar Gutiérrez said that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to keep him in prison and ordered his release. Juan Pistolas was arrested in June 2018 for possession of multiple firearms exclusively for the military, two grenade launchers and narcotics. He was a repeat offender since he was arrested in 2010 and had spent seven years in jail for drug trafficking. At the time of his arrest, Juan Pistolas was one of the CJNG assassin squad leaders. His men recruited people to train as hitmen, and their areas of operations were Guadalajara and Tlajomulco de Zúñiga.
On May 13, 2019, Santiago Nieto Castillo, head of the FIU, reported that 50 million were seized from a federal judge as part of an investigation against organized crime. Although he did not identify him by name, Everything pointed to the fact that the money belonged to Avelar Gutiérrez because the FIU confirmed that the judge was based in Jalisco.
However, the case of Juan Pistolas was not the only one of its kind. There are others in which the same judge ruled the release of at least 10 defendants who allegedly belong to the CJNG, including Rubén Oseguera González “El Menchito”, son of El Mencho. In April 2019, Avelar Gutiérrez was transferred to a court based in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, but the CJF initiated an administrative procedure on May 17 of that same year, the day he was sanctioned in the United States for his links with the CJNG.
In his 20-year career as a judge, Avelar Gutiérrez also handled cases of Rafael Caro Quintero and Rogelio González Pizaña, former early member of the Zetas in the 1990s.
The newspaper Reform, based in Mexico City, indicated that the FIU is also investigating Avelar Gutiérrez for a suspicious account he had at HSBC where more than 12 million in deposits were made in November 2011. The judge said the money was a payment he received for the sale of a property, but investigators maintain that the sale was made in August 2012, several months after the deposit.