A Colombian drug trafficker testified Tuesday that Mexican cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman boasted about paying a $100 million bribe to the former president of Mexico to call off a manhunt for the notorious kingpin.
Drugs kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman once boasted about paying a $100m (£77m) bribe to Mexico's former president, his trial in NY has heard.
The allegations are among the most explosive to emerge from Guzman's trial, which began in November and has so far featured testimony of lower-level corruption.
When asked if he told authorities in 2016 that Guzman arranged the bribe, he answered, "That's right". Pena Nieto was unable to be reached for comment.
His former chief of staff, however, took to social media to vehemently deny the accusations in Spanish.
"The statements by the Colombian drug trafficker in NY are false, defamatory and absurd", said Guzman.
El Chapo, 61, was extradited to the U.S. in 2017 to face charges of trafficking cocaine, heroin and other drugs as head of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel.
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Cifuentes testified that he had told U.S. prosecutors that Pena Nieto initially reached out to Guzman, asking for US$250 million.
Cifuentes was a key figure in the Sinaloa Cartel, of which Guzman was the head, and claimed that he had heard Guzman bragging about the bribe to the former president. Nieto allegedly reached out to El Chapo, telling him that he "didn't need to stay in hiding" if he handed over the money.
Alex Cifuentes spoke about the alleged bribe to President Enrique Pena Nieto during his testimony Tuesday in Guzman's trial in NY.
Cifuentes said he was unable to track down Rodriguez, who now lives in the United States and testified at the trial last week because he did not know his last name.
A spokesman for Pena Nieto, who left office past year, called the bribery claim "false and defamatory" when it first came up earlier in the trial.
Guzman's lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, also questioned Cifuentes about his prior statements from another debriefing a year ago, where Cifuentes questioned his own memory about the circumstance of the bribe.