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  • This is probably one of the only photos available of Carlos Salinas and Carlos Slim.

    This is probably one of the only photos available of Carlos Salinas and Carlos Slim. | Photo: Internet

Published 10 December 2015
Many suspect he is the frontman for former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, while a Mexican researcher said even former presidents are scared of talking about him.

Mexican reporter, writer and filmmaker Diego Enrique Osorno recently published a book of one of the world's “allegedly” richest people, Mexican businessman Carlos Slim, who in 2011 was linked to drug trafficking by a DEA agent.  In his book, Osorno writes that former Mexican presidents were “very fearful” of speaking about Slim. In March, Forbes said he was second only to Bill Gates in terms of riches, with a fortune hovering near US$80 billion.

WikiLeaks recently revealed emails dated April 2011, that confirm that Slim is involved in drug trafficking.

The first email is by Anya Alfano of global intelligence agency Strategic Forecasting, Inc., who was tasked with addressing Dell’s concerns about Slim. She wrote to Stratfor's head of intelligence Fred Burton:

“Do we have any information about where Carlos Slim fits into the [drug) cartel dynamics that we’ve seen in Mexico? … Should clients have any concerns about dealing with him professionally?”

Burton then asks DEA Special Agent William F. Dionne the question:

“Billy, is the MX billionaire Carlos Slim linked to the narcos?”

Dionne replies, “Regarding your question, the MX telecommunication billionaire is.”

The Frontman for Former President Salinas de Gortari

I write “allegedly” the richest person because most of the fortune that is attributed to Slim actually belongs to one of Mexico's biggest thieves, former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. 

A few months after his term ended, in December 1994, Salinas fled the country, leaving it in economic shambles. The situation was so grave that then U.S. President Bill Clinton felt forced to step in and order his Secretary of Treasury Robert Rubin to transfer US$20 billion in emergency funds to then Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, who took the opportunity to buy himself a mansion worth close to US$1 million.

RELATED: Uruguay Expels Mexican Billionaire from Media Market

​The question, however, is why the U.S. and Mexico did nothing to sanction Salinas in spite of the US$10 billion he stole from the Mexican people.

In March 1995, I was in New York City covering the arrest of influential ruling party politician Mario Ruiz Massieu, who fled Mexico fearing for his life after his brother — PRI president and possible future presidential candidate Francisco Ruiz Massieu — and PRI presidential candidate Donaldo Colosio were murdered under alleged orders from the Salinas family. Of course, Carlos' brother Raul Salinas paid the price and was imprisoned in the same maximum security jail from which power drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman escaped in July. However, Raul was never actually charged for either assassination, but instead served a sentence for fraud and money laundering. But, in line with the high-level of corruption and impunity in Mexico, Raul was acquitted in 2005 and released from jail.

Regrettably, the memory of all Mexicans seemed to have vanished.

At that same time, Dow Jones and Company announced Salinas had been named one of more than a dozen vice presidents of the board.

I spoke to then-Dow Jones CEO Roger May and asked him why Salinas had received the appointment. “Because he has invested over US$10 billion in Dow Jones stocks and components. All persons who have over that amount invested, are automatically named members of the board,” May said.

I then asked him if he even cared where the money came from? And whether he cared Salinas stole the money from Mexico? May then said this was a question he could not respond to. A day or two later, Salinas decided to leave for Ireland with a stopover in Cuba.

Osorno describes the fear of interviewees to speak of Slim throughout eight years of research for his critical book on Slim, I would pose the question of whether people are scared of speaking of Slim or are they actually very scared of Salinas, who is currently said to be the most powerful person in Mexico.

Slim is in fact an obscure figure nationally and internationally, and his fortune is highly questionable.

Let's begin with Slim's wedding, which was officiated by Marcial Maciel, the founder of the highly controversial Legions of Christ. Maciel and collaborators were accused of corruption and, even worse, massive cases of pedophilia.

WATCH: Slim Becomes New York Times Stakeholder

Slim's brother, Julian, was an official with the now extinct Federal Security Department, or DFS, and was directly involved in the “Dirty War” of the 1970s against socialists, communists and activists, during which thousands of people were kidnapped, tortured, disappeared, killed or imprisoned.

Osorno’s book, entitled, “Slim. The Political Biography of the World's Richest Mexican,” describes a person who became wealthy thanks exclusively to his ties with Salinas, who is believed to have given Telmex — the Mexican telephone company that for many decades had a complete monopoly on landlines — away to Slim. In my opinion nobody gives anything away, therefore, to me, Salinas must be the owner and Slim the frontman. I'm not the only one with that suspicion.

Regardless, Slim's dubious initial fortune of less than US$5 billion has grown to just over US$77 billion currently.

Osorno explained it took him over eight years to do the research for his book, about which he said:

“The idea to write it originated in my mind after reporting stories out of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Chiapas ... stories of communities submerged in hunger and poverty ... of groups negatively affected by the authoritarian system that still today exists in Mexico.”

He continued, explaining that in 2007 Forbes mentioned Slim as the wealthiest person in the world for the very first time.

“At that moment, I asked myself, what is going on? ... who is this person? People say Carlos Salinas gave away Telmex to him, those were the many rumors going around. But some people were saying that Slim is simply the frontman.”

Socialist political activist Leda Silva wrote in Movimiento Socialista's website that Slim has been Salinas' main frontman for laundering the huge fortunes he stole from Mexico and exposes the absurd Telmex transaction that took place.

“Salinas sold Telmex to Slim for US$400 million and he didn't even pay that full amount. The company was actually worth over US$12 billion at the time of the transaction,” she said. The sale took place in late 1989.

El Financiero, a Mexican newspaper that is fully aligned with the ruling PRI party, has denied any wrongdoing in the sale of Telmex and even shamelessly said that when “Slim bought it, it was only worth US$214 million,” which is absolutely ludicrous considering the company had complete dominance over home telephone service. A basic landline rent at that time was at least US$40 a month and Telmex serviced over 70 million.

Even today, Telmex controls over 94 percent of landlines and 75 percent of cellphone services, with rates among the highest in the world. He also owns Sears in Mexico and about 2,000 other companies, including in construction, finance and others.

Osorno said he spoke to over 100 people when researching for the Slim bio, but complained that most of the interviewees only spoke “off the record.”

“Fear of talking about Slim was so huge, that even two former presidents who had initially given their approval to include their statements in my book, later asked the statements to be pulled,” the writer said.

“There is great fear to speak of Slim. This is one of the factors I discovered throughout my research and is the reason why there is very little information ... there is fear Slim will carry out reprisals,” he added.

Osorno also criticized Slim's “mediocre” philanthropy and said he is such a “cheapskate” he drives his own car and “lives glued to a calculator.”

Votairenet website wrote in 2005 that Slim's fortune came from arms trafficking. Slim would never be able to shake off the fact that he is “the frontman for the little man (Salinas) from Agualeguas (Salinas’ hometown in the northern state of Nuevo Leon), who ransacked Mexico like no other,” the Votairenet article said.

Rumors of Slim in Drug Trafficking Begin

In 2009, Madcow Morning News suggested that Carlos Slim made his fortune through drug trafficking and questioned how he made over US$50 billion in 10 years.

“Has anyone ever made US$50 billion before--or anything close--in just 10 years?,” the website questioned, before replying, “We think not. We think something about Carlos Slim smells fishy.”

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