Mexican gubernatorial candidate caught in corruption scandal days before historic elections

By June 2, 2023

Mexico City, Mexico—- Days before elections for the governorship of the State of Mexico, one of the largest and most influential states in the country, a journalistic investigation linked the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Alejandra del Moral Vela to a corruption network responsible for embezzling USD $300 million.

The elections on June 4 are decisive for the Mexican political class, especially for the PRI party, which has governed the state for over 90 years. However, the investigation by local journalist María Teresa Montaño Delgado could end the PRI’s reign and del Moral’s governorship ambitions.  

Since 2021 Delgado has investigated a corruption network linked to the current governor of the State of Mexico, Alfredo del Mazo Maza, from the PRI party, who has been governor since 2017 and whose father, grandfather, and uncle have also governed the state. 

Governor Alfredo del Mazo Maza

The report uncovered that from 2018 to 2022, del Mazo’s administration had signed 40 contracts with 15 shell companies amassing USD $285 million, with the embezzled resources supposedly funding del Moral Vela’s campaign for this year’s election. 

Delgado’s investigation cost her dearly, and in August 2021, two armed men kidnapped her. Her abductors broke into her home and stole her computer, phone, voice recorder, and notebooks — her whole investigation.

She was released after the home invasion and would soon leave Mexico for months. However, she would return with the English news daily, The Guardian, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), and the non-profit Forbidden Stories to end her investigation. 

According to the story published by the Guardian on May 31, different governmental agencies, including the governor’s office, signed contracts for different services with private contractors. The offices’ addresses, listed hundreds of miles away from the State of Mexico, resulted to be vacant buildings or small businesses unrelated to the supposed companies contracted by the government. 

One example is the 12 public contracts totaling more than USD $4 million signed between 2021 and 2022 with the cleaning company Sevacom, hired to organize workshops on “make-up,” “facial treatments,” “sewing,” and “balloon decoration” in the State of Mexico.

Journalist Teresa Montaño Delgado

The listed offices were located in the north of the country in Nuevo Leon, almost 560 miles from the State of Mexico. When Delgado investigated the address, she found a small business dedicated to wholesale cleaning products. Moreover, the confused owner denied having a multimillion contract with any state government. 

Another example illustrated by The Guardian was a second-floor apartment in a near-desert area on the west coast of Mexico, 450 miles from the capital of the State of Mexico. According to the contracts obtained by Delgado, a company contracted for USD $55 million by the government was located at that address.

In addition, nine out of the 40 contracts investigated were signed by the state’s department of social development, offices led in 2022 by Alejandra del Moral. The previous director of the department, Eric Sevilla Montes de Oca, who presided over the agency from 2018 to 2022, is the current president of the party in the state and del Moral’s campaign manager. 

Following the story’s publication in The Guardian, del Moral canceled her closing rally in Tlanepantla, the largest municipality in the state, and her scheduled interview with the country’s largest mass media network, Televisa. 

Alejandra del Moral at a rally in the State of Mexico.

Amassing almost 17 million inhabitants, the State of Mexico is by far the most populated in the republic. Historically a stronghold of the PRI party, the state has also held record-breaking figures in violence, femicides, and corruption, placing it amongst the most dangerous in the country. 

According to the Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection figures, the State of Mexico is the third most violent state in the country, with 2,604 homicides in 2022. Moreover, femicides and murders of women have risen sharply during del Mazo’s administration. The reported 70% increase in femicides has made the state the most dangerous for women in the country. 

The June 4 elections in the State of Mexico have raised the alarm among the PRI ranks as the MORENA candidate Delfina Gómez, former Secretary of Education and close ally of the President, has headed almost every poll.

No one has been arrested for the kidnapping of Delgado in 2021.