The Reforma story on Chapo's documents continues to make headlines; of course, we already knew he had informants high up in law enforcement, but this latest evidence simply reaffirms just how well-connected the man and his organization are.
The most interesting thing about Chapo's connections is how they came about. In the 90s, Amado Carrillo Fuentes was the man who had all the contacts. He had generals, air logistics experts, and government officials in his pockets.
Chapo, meanwhile, didn't have all that much besides local officials. But he went to work, deploying the Beltran Leyva brothers to begin the corruption process. They apparently went about it slowly – first lower level federal officials, then mid-level. They apparently didn't even try to go right to the top – where Carrillo Fuentes and Juan Garcia Abrego of the Gulf cartel already had connections – because they were betting on the long-term. They were betting that their guys, not yet on the radar, would rise up the ranks and one day be on top.
How far did they get? So far, the highest ranking official arrested for alleged links to Chapo is Noe Ramirez, the former anti-drug prosecutor who is still being held for allegedly agreeing to take payments of $450,000 a month from the Beltran Leyva brothers.
Ramirez started working in the PGR in 1995; given their track record, chances are good that the Beltran Leyva brothers started working on him at around the same time.
The other element of corruption that I think is undercovered is just who these guys go after. They don't go on fishing expeditions, they pick their mark and then approach him with an offer. How do they know who to pick? I have no particular insight into their methods, but my guess is that they pick just like any predator would – but instead of the weak, they go after the ambitious. The ambitious young official who wants to rise up will do just about anything his boss says, but at the same time, will leave himself susceptible because rather than thinking with the law in mind, he'll think of getting ahead, moving up the ladder and getting rich. He'll effectively be too ambitious for his own good, so ripe for corruption.
Then there's the jaded old burned out law enforcement officer or investigator who's just fed up with his life going nowhere (and his official pension, which is likely close to non-existent).
Anyway, those are my thoughts. I also wonder how many of the officials/cops/generals who were signed up by the Beltran Leyva brothers jumped ship to work directly for Chapo when he and the brothers fell out in 2008.
PS - New York Times has a good summary of the document news (link in title) with some opining from yours truly.