The trial of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman took a dramatic and momentous turn when his right-hand man testified that he knew of a $100 million bribe paid to Enrique Pena Nieto, the former president of Mexico.
Guzman's murder and drug conspiracy trial was moved to the United States after he escaped from the Mexican prison several times, the last time in 2015 through a secret tunnel in his jail cell and aided by prison guards. He was caught in 2016 by Mexican forces.
In testimony on Tuesday, Alex Cifuentes, the former associate of the drug cartel leader, said that Guzman approved of the bribe, though he did not know when exactly Pena Nieto received it.
Cifuentes was a key figure in the Sinaloa Cartel, which was led by Guzman, and claimed that he had heard Guzman bragging about the bribe to the former president.
Reuters reported that neither Pena Nieto nor his former spokesperson could be reached for comment about the claims.
His former chief of staff, however, took to social media to vehemently deny the accusations in Spanish.
"The declarations of the Colombian drug trafficker in New York are false, defamatory and absurd," said Francisco Guzman, as translated by Reuters.
Guzman added that it under Pena Nieto's administration that Guzman was found, detained and extradited. He also said that it had been a priority since the beginning of Nieto's term as president.
The federal judge in the case has warned the defense attorney for Guzman from making unsubstantiated claims of corruption in order to defend his client.
"Your opening statement handed out a promissory note that your case is not going to cash," the judge said.
Pena Nieto served as the president of Mexico from 2012 until 2018.