Mexico: presidential guard, beauty queen busted in narco wars

A member of Mexico's presidential guard was reportedly arrested as a spy for the Beltran Leyva crime machine (Sinaloa Cartel) Dec. 26. An anonymous official of the federal prosecutor's office identified Arturo González Rodríguez as an army major who was assigned to the unit that guards the president. Prosecutors announced that González Rodríguez had been placed under hour arrest for 40 days while he is investigated on claims that he passed information to the cartel in exchange for payments of up to $100,000. More than a dozen high-ranking police and judicial officials have been detained on similar charges in recent months, but none has been linked so closely to the office of President Felipe Calderón. (AP, Dec. 27)

Mexican beauty queen Laura Zuñiga Huizar was stripped this week of her Miss Hispanoamericana title in response to her arrest with an accused narco-jefe, announced the Bolivia-based Promociones Gloria, which awarded her the prize on Oct. 31. Zuñiga, 23, also the winner this year's Miss Sinaloa pageant, was arrested Dec. 22 with seven men in Guadalajara. Authorities also seized automatic weapons and $53,000 in cash in the operation. Among the detained was Zuñiga's presumed boyfriend, Ángel Orlando García Urquiza, the brother of Ricardo García AKA "El Doctor"—a purported leader of the Juárez Cartel.

Officials in Sinaloa state say pageant organizers may have fast-tracked Zúñiga to victory as Miss Sinaloa in July at the behest of her powerful boyfriend. Pageant organisers say they may strip her of her title if it is shown that her win was connected to her relationship with García. Nuestra Belleza Mexico, the pageant's ruling body, has released a statement saying it knew nothing about "any illicit activity in which she could be involved." Zuñiga is a native of Cuiliacan, capital of Sinaloa, whose reigning cartel is said to be at war with the Juárez machine. Under Mexican law Zúñiga can be held for 40 days while police decide whether to charge her. (The Observer, Dec. 28; Latin American Herald Tribune, Dec. 27)

See our last post on Mexico's narc