MEXICO CITY — Mexico has charged seven officials, including three members of the country's organized-crime unit, with providing information on government raids and investigations to the country's most powerful drug gang.
Cuitlahuac Salinas, head of the organized-crime unit, said on Wednesday the seven were accused of passing information to the Sinaloa cartel of Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexico's most-wanted man.
Salinas said federal and local officials were part of the probe. One of the three accused from the organized-crime unit had also worked at the Supreme Court, he added.
Mexico's powerful drug cartels are suspected of spending millions of dollars a year to corrupt officials, but charges are not common and officials are rarely convicted.
Guzman has made the Sinaloa cartel the country's most powerful drug-trafficking organization since he escaped from prison in a laundry van in 2001.
In July, Mexico charged three generals, two of them retired, with having ties to cartels in what was seen as the biggest armed forces corruption case under outgoing President Felipe Calderon, who staked his reputation on bringing the gangs to heel.
Salinas' comments on the corruption probe followed a report by Mexican newspaper Reforma this week that one of the accused officials was close to Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales.
Salinas denied that report, saying that officials who sell information to organized crime tended to overstate their influence within the government.
Arrest warrants were issued on June 21 and the seven officials have been held in different jails pending trials, Salinas said. Until now, authorities had not made public details of the investigation.
The former head of Mexico's organized-crime unit was jailed in 2008, accused of taking $450,000 a month from the Sinaloa cartel.
© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.