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LOS AMIGOS DE BUSH

The disturbing ties of some of George W. Bush’s Latino advisors

 

More on Bush-Amigos links in PBS Frontline interview with Gary Jacobs



  “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres.
Tell me who you side with and I will tell you who you are.”
— “George W. Bush for President” web site
 

 

Cast of
Characters:

Los amigos de
los amigos

 

 

George W. Bush Jr.

Friend and ally of Ernesto Ancira Jr. Roy Barrera Sr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ernesto Ancira Jr.

Friend of George and Laura Bush, co-chair Adelante con Bush, Bushes (Jr. and Sr.) campaigned for him in 1992 State Senate run. On board of The Dominion.
Friend and/or associate of
Guillermo Ávila
Gus García
Roy Barrera, Jr.

Cousin of Alonso Ancira

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roy Barrera Jr.

Head of San Antonio Republican party, Adelante con Bush (Sr.), Bush Team 100, campaigning for W, said to be cabinet contender.


The Barreras’ cartel-related clients:

Guillermo Avila, CONVICTED money launderer for Juárez cartel.

Juan Chapa, CONVICTED cocaine trafficker, Juárez and Gulf cartels.

Mario Alberto Salinas Treviño, FBI links to 1985 murder of DEA agent Enrique Camarena, CONVICTED cocaine runner, Caro-Quintero cartel.

Enrique Fuentes León, lawyer for Gulf Cartel, linked to Ruiz Massieu and Colosio assassinations, CONVICTED of bribery, now imprisoned in Mexico in connection with murder of Nellie Campobello. Has OUTSTANDING WARRANT in U.S. on attempted bribery charges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guillermo Ávila

CONVICTED money launderer for Juárez cartel, linked to Rafael Muñoz Talavera (photo, below). Was on the board of Dominion, friend of Ernesto Ancira and Gus García.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enrique Fuentes León


Lawyer for Gulf cartel CONVICTED of bribery, partner in Planeta Mexico with Rogelio Gasca Jr. Bought large tract of Dominion property, sold part of it to Image Homes Ltd, which sold it to Crescent Real Estate, a company George W. Bush invested in. (more under Roy Barrera, Jr.) Linked to assassination of José Francisco Ruiz Massieu (below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manuel Muñoz Rocha

FUGITIVE wanted in connection with assassination of PRI politician José Francisco Ruiz Massieu. Was paid $500,000 by check issued from Bank Audi, Geneva. Last seen in San Antonio with Enrique Fuentes León.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manuel Pacheco

Admitted money launderer CONVICTED, partner in Planeta Mexico with Enrique Fuentes León.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Jacobs

President of Laredo National Bank, owned and run by Carlos Hank Rhon and Carlos Hank González. Donated $61,000 to George W. Bush. In another case, was fined last spring by FEC for violating campaign finance laws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carlos Hank González

Known as the PRI king-maker, the “Dinosaur” of the party, his family has been investigated for cartel links, murder and money laundering, NOT CHARGED.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gus García

INVESTIGATED for cocaine trafficking and money laundering, NOT CHARGED. Business partner of Anuar Name, their San Antonio building bought for $5 million cash, re-financed by Bank Audi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anuar Name

Reported in news media and by investigators as friend and/or partner of:

Emilio Checa Curi, fugitive investigated for Sinaloa/Guadalajara cartel ties

Mario Villanueva, fugitive wanted for Juárez cartel ties

Adnan Kasshoghi, International arms dealer involved in Iran-Contra scandal

Joseph Audi, of Lebanese Audi family, CEO and partner in Bank Audi, New York

Raúl Salinas, CONVICTED of authoring murder of Ruiz Massieu. See Raúl Salinas box.

Carlos Hank González, Billionaire politician-businessman. See Carlos Hank González box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari
Widely accused in Mexican press of corruption and Gulf cartel links, NOT CHARGED. Now self-exiled in Ireland and/or Cuba.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEXICAN MOVERS AND SHAKERS IN “THE DOMINION”

Moises Saba
Property financed by Laredo National Bank, which is owned by Carlos Hank Rhon. Moises is son of PRI finacier Isaac Saba, PRI financier and one of the richest men in Latin America. Investor in TV Azteca, second-largest TV network in Mexico. Isaac Saba recently took over a large share of the Anciras’ business in Mexico.

Alonso Ancira
CEO of AHMSA, Mexico’s largest steel company. Accused of business fraud (Fertimex, Carbon II), NOT CHARGED. Property in Dominion transferred in December 1998 to Cayman Island corporation.

Guillermo Ancira
CEO of AHMSA mining subsidiary. Paid cash for Dominion home.

Carlos Ancira
Son of Guillermo. Paid cash for another home with Guillermo Ancira, title transferred to Cayman Islands corporation in 1999.

García Lourdes Brothers
One brother is head of Mexican Hotel-Motel Association, paid cash.

Rodrigo Treviño
CFO of Cemex, third largest cement company in the world.

Hector Burgos
Accused of stock market fraud, NOT CHARGED, partner Eduardo
Legorreta
convicted. Legorreta was implicated in money-laundering with Enrique Fuentes León in Texas, NOT CHARGED.

Rodolfo Zedillo
Paid cash for first home, just built second in Dominion. Brother of Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo. INVESTIGATED for accepting $8 million from a Juárez cartel-funded company, NOT CHARGED.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE ENERGY BARONS

Robert Mosbacher Sr.
Investor, friend of Bushes, has an investment firm in Mexico City and is pushing for Pemex privatization.

Rogelio Montemayor
Investor, friend of Anciras, while governor of Coahuila was accused of illegally investing in Ancira fertilizer company, NOT CHARGED. Now head of Pemex, pushing for privatization.

Rogelio Gasca Neri
Resigned after being accused of fraud while head of Mexican Federal Electricity Commission, still under investigation. Now is Mexican consul in Austin. His son Rogelio sold Planeta Mexico to Fuentes León. Other son, Enrique, has worked with Alonso Ancira. Family bought property in Sonterra development from Fuentes León.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

Forbes; Andres Oppenhiemer, “Bordering on Chaos,: Mexico’s Roller-Coaster Journey Toward Prosperity,” 1998, Little, Brown and Company; Proceso magazine; El Financiero; The Washington Post; San Antonio Express News; Bexar County Deeds and Records Office and individual interviews.

 

 

by Julie Reynolds
Research assistance by Victor Almazán and Ana Leonor Rojo


Those who say that George W. Bush has scant knowledge of foreign affairs don’t understand his family’s relationship with Mexico.

If one event could be said to make that relationship visible, it had to be the state dinner given eleven years ago by President Bush for Mexico’s president, Carlos Salinas. It was an elegant yet boisterous gala, where the biggest movers and shakers in Texas and Mexico congregated and celebrated. This group was to become W’s Mexican legacy, a gift of ties and connections passed on from the father to his son.

What was not visible was that the group included two men with numerous links to drug cartel figures. These men helped George W. Bush win the Latino vote in Texas. Which raises a few questions: How did these guys get into the Bush circle? What else do they do for him? And, to rephrase a famous query, what did the presidential candidate know and when did he know it?

A glance around the fourteen tables at the 1989 dinner showed that pains were taken to arrange them so that no one appeared more important than the others. There was a smattering of celebrities — Anthony Quinn, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Barbara Walters and Larry King. Bush’s son Jeb and his Mexican wife Columba joined the soirée, too.

The Mexican president had spent a long day with President Bush signing trade pacts, the precursors of NAFTA. Salinas brought his so-called Dream Team: his commerce secretary, finance minister, and his personal Machiavelli, Jose Córdoba. It would later be astounding to see, as the decade unfolded, how many of that administration’s proud men and women fell shamefully from grace — some exiled, some imprisoned and some assassinated.

No one knew it then, but many at that banquet would survive to one day help young W beat a path back to the White House. There were loyal “Bushfellas” who were old friends of the family: Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher Sr., General Colin Powell, and George Bush Senior’s ever-present friend, Secretary of State James Baker. Gary Jacobs, whose Texas bank was about to be bought by the son of Mexico’s billionaire-politico Carlos Hank González, was also a guest. Tony Garza, then a young judge, is now a Bush cabinet contender. Today, all are advisors or contributors to W’s campaign.

Hidden among the glitterati were two relative unknowns. They were, however, familiar to the group at hand. They were the loyal “Amigos de Bush” from San Antonio: criminal defense lawyer Roy Barrera Jr. and car dealer Ernesto Ancira Jr. In contrast to the Salinas group, the ties of Barrera and Ancira to drug cartels would remain unnoticed for another decade. Their ties to George W. would grow stronger.

 

In the Name of the Father

George Bush Sr. began his family’s relationship with Mexico in the 1960s, when his Zapata Offshore Oil Company was partner in a border-region oil company called Perforaciones Marinas del Golfo (Permargo), with Jorge Díaz Serrano.

In 1988, the financial newspaper Barron’s reported that the two Jorges — Bush and Díaz Serrano — used prestanombres (“name-lenders”) to hide Bush’s investment in Permargo from the Mexican government, skirting Mexican foreign-ownership laws. Barron’s also accused the Securities and Exchange Commission of destroying related documents after Bush became vice president in 1981.

Bush Sr. met Carlos Salinas’s father, Raúl Salinas Lozano, back when the latter was Mexico’s commerce secretary. The families’ friendship has continued through the years. Raúl Salinas, the president’s brother, has told investigators that Jeb and Columba Bush joined him three times for vacations at his hacienda Las Mendocinas. It was the same estate where he reportedly hosted an infamous 1990 party for the cream of Mexico’s drug cartels, which Jeb and Columba did not attend.

Twelve years ago presidents-elect Carlos Salinas de Gortari and George Bush Sr. met in Texas in a meeting that was called “The Spirit of Houston.”

“That meeting shaped the relationship between both countries for years to come,” Antonio Ocarranza, former Zedillo aide and president of the consulting firm Public Strategies Inc.(PSI) office in Mexico City told the Dallas Morning News. PSI is owned by several generous George W. Bush supporters, including Bush pioneer Roger Wallace.

Today, as governor of Texas, George W. Bush has assumed the role his father once had as president. He meets regularly with Mexican officials, from President Zedillo to Secretary of Energy Luis Téllez, to discuss joint energy pacts and trade issues.

“I’ve had foreign policy as the governor of Texas, and that is with Mexico,” George W. Bush said during the New Hampshire primary.

While he is in public shaking hands, Bush’s friend Ernesto Ancira works backstage in the international energy sector. Which comes naturally: Ancira’s family and their partners practically own the energy business in Mexico. The Bushes, of course, know everyone in the oil business in the US. It’s a nice match, the Bushes and the Anciras.

Let me make one thing clear: there is no evidence that Ernesto himself runs afoul of the law. Ancira is, rather, a point man in what Mexican journalist Juan Ruiz Healy calls “El Grupo Texano de George W. Bush.” He happens to have quite a few friends who are connected with drug cartels. In addition, there are some disturbing links between Ernesto’s group of friends in San Antonio and the assassination of Mexican politician José Francisco Ruíz Massieu. Since Ernesto has been a friend and a helper to the man who may be president, I believe they are connections worth exploring.


“ERNESTO IS VERY FRIENDLY, very fun-loving,” a real estate agent told me as we cruised Ernie Ancira’s turf, “The Dominion,” a securely-gated San Antonio development where a number of Mexico’s elite have invested in million-dollar homes.

Ernie, she said, loves to barbecue. Has money. Likes to socialize.

Ernie — auto dealer Ernesto Ancira, Jr. — is one of San Antonio’s most popular and respected business leaders. Every year, he’s in the lists of top Latino entrepreneurs. Last April, his Ancira Enterprises Inc. made the number two slot — with $575 million in revenue — in Hispanic magazine’s list of the fastest-growing Latino companies.

“My mother was paranoid about her kids’ success,” he once said. “It’s like there was a tremendous hurry to accomplish.”

Truly a binational man, Ernesto Ancira Jr., was born in San Antonio in 1944, but spent his formative years close to his industrialist cousins in Mexico, who are in-laws of the Salinas family. In the 1960s he rose to become the top assistant to his mentor, Claudio X. González, one of the country’s most powerful businessmen. González later became President Salinas’s foreign investment advisor.

Ancira’s family in Mexico has long been part of the power elite. The Ancira name is prominent in the city of Monterrey; that northern commercial center’s most elegant old hotel bears the name of Hotel Ancira.

But in the 1970s, the Ancira family ran into problems back in Texas. Ernie’s father was implicated in a money laundering scandal at his company, San Antonio Foreign Exchange. The elder Ancira moved back to Mexico, but there he was named by US authorities as a participant in an $8 million tax fraud scheme.

Ernie Junior, however, chose to return to Texas and prosper. In San Antonio, he hooked up with an ex-FBI agent and former city manager, Ralph Winton, and in 1972 they started a used car business together. Within a scant six years, Ancira bought out his partner, and Ancira Winton Chevrolet was earning $150 million and growing.

Ernesto became a civic leader and a Republican heavyweight. He chaired the Alamo Bowl and still heads the Southwestern Bell PGA Golf Tournament. He was LULAC’s 1987 Empresario of the Year, and he received a MALDEF Corporate Responsibility Award the same year.

And he met the Bushes. He co-chaired “Adelante con Bush” when George Senior ran for president, and along the way, he befriended George W. He is one of the folks George W. Bush’s people call his “100 closest friends,” a group that kicked off W’s presidential campaign last year with $1000 donations.

Ancira learned to schmooze with politicians big and small, sometimes annoying local Republicans when he supported an occasional Democrat. He paid for a 1994 trip for Congressman Henry Bonilla to meet Mexican officials in Ciudad Victoria. Twice he bestowed travel gifts on Bush’s Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher, Sr. He reportedly piloted his Cessna to host airborne meetings so that Mosbacher and his Mexican counterpart, Jaime Serra, could privately discuss NAFTA. Young Ernie was a millionaire, a friend of the Bushes, and he was literally flying high. His family — movers and shakers all — would have expected no less.


Early Cartel Connections

As he developed business and political contacts, Ernesto Ancira also cultivated friendships with men connected to Mexican drug cartels. One of the first was financier Guillermo Ávila.

As early as 1987, Ávila was part of an Ernesto Ancira troika, a flashy threesome-about-town starring Ancira, Ávila and developer Gustavo García. The three were often seen together in San Antonio in the late 1980s, until Ávila and his partners were busted for drug money laundering.

Ernesto wrote to the US Attorney in the case and said that Ávila was a “responsible individual” who had a “positive impact on our community.” Their kids even went to the same private school.

But Ávila and his partners had transferred $500,000 of supposed drug money — provided by a law enforcement sting — in and out of accounts in the US, Mexico, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands. In addition, Ávila owned an El Paso house that was raided in connection with the seizure of 21 tons of cocaine from his brother-in-law’s Sylmar, California warehouse, an all-time international record. The Juarez cartel’s Carlos Tapia Anchondo was living in Ávila’s home, and the drugs belonged to one of the cartel’s top men, Rafael Muñoz Talavera.

When he entered the courtroom, Ávila winked at friends and family. But when the prosecutors played tapes of the defendants accepting “dirty” money, the party was over.

Ávila was found guilty of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments on behalf of drug traffickers. Incredibly, he served a little over a year in prison. Afterward, he was banished from the US and moved to San Luis Potosí. The boss, Rafael Muñoz Talavera, was gunned down on a Juarez street in 1998.

Ávila got off easy. He could credit his astute attorney, Roy Barrera Sr., whose son and partner Roy Jr. was a guest of the Bushes at the White House dinner. “Little Roy” is now a top-notch trial lawyer and a close Bush advisor.

Though Roy Senior is a Democrat, Little Roy is a staunch Republican who has been in the trenches with W and Ernesto Ancira ever since they all campaigned for President Bush in the late 1980s, under the banner of “Adelante con Bush.”

It was during those campaign years that George Junior bonded with many of his Latino allies in the state and made the friends he would later lean on when his political ambitions got into gear. By and large, the Latino alliances Bush touts so loudly these days are not social workers or school teachers, and they are certainly not working-class. Like most in W’s circle, they are Texas heavy-hitters who got rich from their astute blending of business and politics.

Barrera Jr. quickly got close to the Bush family, and has stayed close. Both Bushes campaigned for him when he ran for state attorney general in 1986. In ‘88, he was part of a group of eight Bush allies called the “Victory Squad.” During the president’s 1992 campaign, Little Roy and Barbara Bush even teamed up and drove a mobile home from Austin to San Antonio to stump for the candidate. That same year, Barrera became head of the Bexar County (San Antonio) Republican party and has chaired it ever since.

Once one of the youngest judges in Texas, Roy now fancies himself as Bush’s right arm. He recently passed business cards around at a national conference of credit unions, saying that he represented the governor’s office. Last winter, Barrera braved the ice with W to knock on New Hampshire doors before the primary, and this summer he was one of the few Latino delegates at the Republican National Convention.

Ernie Ancira was among the friends and fans at Roy Jr.’s fortieth birthday bash at San Antonio’s Macaroni Grill, reported in detail by the San Antonio Express News. The group took turns roasting each other: handsome, charismatic Ernie almost stole the show from Roy. He was jokingly named “the new wet dream of the Republican party, Otto von Ancira,” by Republican Judge Tom Rickhoff. Roy and Ernie, both good-looking, became hot young GOP legends. They were touted as part of the “Republican Comeback,” said to embody the New Republican: young, wealthy and Hispanic.

But old ghosts have repeatedly blocked the course of Little Roy’s political life. During Barrera’s ill-fated 1986 attorney general’s race, Vice President Bush hailed him as an “outstanding young Texan,” and said Barrera would “stand up to the drug pushers in our schools and in our state.”

But the fact is, Roy has earned a slice of his income from the drug pushers’ bosses, and he’s done a decent job of keeping them out of prison, too. The Barreras, father and son, have a unique distinction: they are among Texas’s best narco-lawyers.

And we’re not talking school-yard pushers. Along with Corpus Christi attorney Tony Canales, the two Barreras represent the cream of criminals from Mexican cartels when they have the bad fortune to get dragged before US courts.

Among the choice clients the Barreras have defended are the Juárez cartel’s US “coordinator” Juan Chapa Garza (now serving thirty years for drug trafficking and money laundering), and Mario Alberto Salinas Treviño, a cocaine runner and alleged murderer, whom the FBI also links to the 1985 murder of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Enrique Camarena. But there is one Barrera client who stands out as the most fantastic and treacherous of all: the “consigliero” of the Gulf cartel, Enrique Fuentes León.

“There are going to be more deaths, eh?”

Fuentes León, the cartel’s lawyer arrived in San Antonio in 1991, a time when, financially and politically, the Anciras were on top of the world. They were building their empire in Mexico under Salinas and in Texas under the Bushes.

Enrique Fuentes León joined the Ancira and Gus García troika, replacing the now-exiled Ávila.

It was during this time that Ernesto and his cousins began to invest in luxury real estate, and the others — the Mexican industrial elite — joined him. Ernesto got in on the new gated golf course development north of San Antonio, The Dominion, where Guillermo Ávila once sat on the board, and Ernie still sits.

Behind the imposing stone arch, the Ancira family’s neighbors are a who’s who of Mexico’s corporate and government power structure. The Zambrano-Treviños of the giant cement firm CEMEX bought property there, as did the head of Mexico’s Hotel-Motel Association and half a dozen other big shots. Many of them paid cash. Even the new President of Mexico’s brother, Rodolfo Zedillo, bought his Dominion house for cash in October 1994, right around the time he started an $8 million business deal funded by the Juárez cartel.

But by far the biggest piece of acreage in Dominion was bought by Enrique Fuentes León, a fugitive sought in Mexico for bribing judges on behalf of a rich Acapulco playboy who raped, tortured and killed a six-year old girl. Fuentes León fled to Chile, then Argentina. Then he arrived in Texas with a visa that said he was an investor.

Invest he did. Fuentes León bought some one hundred-plus acres in Dominion in the early 90s, and he soon acquired over $6 million in San Antonio real estate.

The DEA reportedly grew interested in him when he represented Gulf “capo” Juan García Ábrego in a Matamoros trial. Though he was still wanted in Mexico, Fuentes León somehow traveled in and out of the country often, using brand-new Mexican passports. A law enforcement investigator in charge of Fuentes León’s arrest told me that Ancira sometimes flew Fuentes León in his private plane, but Ancira says he never met him.

The investing continued. In 1993, Fuentes León, and a group of investors attempted to purchase the San Antonio Light newspaper, but the Hearst Corporation — or perhaps the Justice Department, which usually looks into major newspaper sales — never accepted the offers. Fuentes León did buy the popular disco Planeta Mexico owned by Ancira’s friend in the energy sector, Rogelio Gasca Jr. A new partner, Manuel Pacheco, came in on the deal but was later arrested and given a fifteen-year sentence for money-laundering.

With his visa about to expire, Fuentes León made fruitless pleas to America’s high and mighty — including George W. Bush, who called his father, the president, on Fuentes León’s behalf (see El Andar Winter ‘99). Fuentes León was finally arrested, and attempted bribery and drug money-laundering charges were ready to be filed against him, too.

The Barreras took the case.

At the hearing, a remarkable tape was played, recorded while Fuentes León arranged to bribe an undercover INS agent. The tape was made in the summer of 1994, a few months after the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio. Fuentes León bragged that his son Enrique, also a lawyer, was “one of Zedillo’s people.” In a moment of bravado, Fuentes León told the INS agent, “I know how they killed Colosio.” And he said something even more chilling: “In the end, in August... there are going to be deaths and all that shit, eh? ... There are going to be more deaths.”

And so it was: José Francisco Ruíz Massieu, the Guerrero governor who had wanted Fuentes León to face charges in Mexico, was assassinated soon after. El Financiero columnist Jorge Fernández reported that Ruíz Massieu was scheduled to be killed in August, but because of a problem with one of the would-be hit men, the event actually took place in September.

Raúl Salinas, the president’s brother, was eventually convicted for authoring the murder. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agents insisted that another man wanted for orchestrating the assassination’s logistics was with Fuentes León moments before his arrest in San Antonio. The man, Manuel Muñoz Rocha, simply walked away, because at the time the agents didn’t know he was a fugitive with a $1 million price on his head. The INS official in charge of the arrest, Gary Renick, says that all three agents who were present separately identified Muñoz Rocha from photos. Now retired, Renick still says he is convinced that Muñoz Rocha was present at Fuentes León’s arrest.

An employee of Fuentes León then testified she overheard her boss talking with a man she was sure was Ernesto Ancira’s friend Gustavo García, just a few days after the murder occurred. The employee said that she believes she heard the men talk about the murder and she is sure that they said they needed to send more money to “Muñoz.”

The DEA has reportedly found that a top drug enforcement officer on the Gulf cartel payroll met with Fuentes León and Muñoz Rocha in a “city in the United States” a few weeks before the killing. And an FBI report noted that one witness told agents that Fuentes León “has a lot of information about Ruiz Massieu.”

Manuel Muñoz Rocha disappeared at the very moment of Fuentes León’s arrest, and was never officially seen again. But one curious footnote to his San Antonio stay lingers: Muñoz Rocha’s visa, which he used to enter and leave the US a few weeks before and after Ruiz Massieu’s assassination, listed a conspicuous address: “The Dominion, San Antonio.”

Gus García: The Third Man

With the third member of Ancira’s San Antonio troika, developer Gustavo García, the Grupo Texano became a multinational operation.

García has been under investigation by the DEA for cocaine trafficking in Florida and Venezuela, and by local police for money laundering in San Antonio. He has not been charged.

He’s head of the Brita water purification franchise in Mexico, and he owns around a hundred million dollars’ worth of San Antonio real estate along with his partner, Lebanese-Mexican businessman Anuar Name (pronounced nah-may).

The only visible sign of Name’s presence in San Antonio is the gleaming office tower he and Gus García own together. The Mercantile building is an impressive, mirrored ribbon of a building, and García wanted to buy it for several years but couldn’t come up with the money. Then, after a lengthy trip to Mexico, he returned victorious, representing Anuar Name, a multi-million-dollar financier of the Salinas campaign.

Name, too, had blemishes on his reputation, but they weren’t well-known. Newspapers reported that Name co-owned a Tijuana disco together with a member of the Caro-Quintero drug cartel of Sonora. Name is also an associate of Egyptian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a friend of Raúl Salinas, and a partner of PRI king-maker Carlos Hank González, whose family has been investigated in the US, Costa Rica and Mexico for links to drug cartels, murder and money laundering (See El Andar Summer/Fall ‘99).

García bought the Mercantile building for Anuar Name in February 1992 for $5 million — in cash. “I have some major tenants looking at it,” García told reporters. Soon after, Name’s friends the Hank family moved in, leasing the entire ground floor for Carlos Hank Jr.’s Laredo National Bank. There, too, Ernesto Ancira installed campaign headquarters for his 1992 run for Texas State Senator.

Anuar Name’s circle also includes Joseph Audi, of the Lebanese Bank Audi, a “private, personal bank” with branches in Beirut, Geneva, Paris, Luxembourg and New York that has been involved in a multi-million dollar arms running and money-laundering scandal. The bank was not charged, but a $6 million account was frozen and one of its depositors was charged with arms running and money laundering.

In late 1993 and early 1994, Name and García re-financed their building several times over (for $1 to $5 million each time), a large part of which came from none other than Name’s friendly neighborhood banker, Bank Audi.

But Bank Audi has a more auspicious claim to fame: its Geneva branch was the issuing bank of a $599,985 payment that made its way through several banks until it landed in an account belonging to Manuel Muñoz Rocha and a hit man convicted in the assault that killed Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu.

Investigators have never determined who owned that original account in Bank Audi.

The Amigos de Bush

Ernie and Roy Barrera campaigned for President Bush in 1992, and they celebrated what looked like an easy re-election with George W at a “Super Tuesday” rally for the Texas primary. Ancira also thought he was a shoo-in in his run for the state senate, especially when both Bushes came out to campaign for him. George W. optimistically greeted Ernie as “Mr. Senator” well before the election took place.

But Ernesto and President Bush lost on the same depressing day in November, 1992 — Ancira lost the state senate and Bush, the presidency of the United States.

1994 was a turbulent year for the Grupo Texano. Things happened quickly, and so dramatically that the scene was brutal, intoxicating. NAFTA, the jewel in the crown of all involved, from Salinas to the Bushes to Mosbacher to the Anciras, became reality on January first. The same day, Zapatista rebels declared war on the Mexican government, followed by bloody massacres and international outcry. By fall Mexico had suffered the assassinations of Colosio and Ruiz Massieu. Ernesto Zedillo — a Yale man just like the Bushes — was elected President. Then the peso collapsed. Lucky for them, most of Mexico’s wealthy class had already put their money into dollar-based investments — such as San Antonio real estate. So things were looking up, especially after George W. was elected.

The Bush for Governor campaign was easy. The Amigos de Bush — W’s Latino support group — rallied heavily for their man. Bush’s people were elated that he had garnered 29 percent of the Latino vote, approaching the record 38 percent Roy Barrera had earned in his bid for state attorney general. Back in that 1986 race, both Bushes had stumped for Barrera, holding “Voy Con Roy” barbecue fundraisers and rallies. In ‘94, Roy was more than happy to return the favor and celebrate George W’s victory, and especially his coup with the Hispanic vote. After all, Roy and the “Amigos” helped him win it.

Ancira, another “Amigo de Bush,” was feeling good, too. He was rewarded with two Bush appointments: first to the Texas State Workers Comp Board, then to a coveted advisory board position at the University of Texas School of Business. George W.’s influential friend James Leininger gave Ernie a board position in his new conservative think tank, the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Almost immediately, Governor Bush had to tackle a problem presented by Ernesto’s young cousins from Mexico. The Anciras had teamed up with an old school chum, pharmaceutical heir Xavier Autrey, during President Salinas’s privatization free-for-all of the late 1980s. The “A” kids maneuvered six million dollars of other peoples’ money into billions, buying up mining and energy companies, as well as Mexico’s largest steel company, Altos Hornos de Mexico (AHMSA). Soon their companies were accused of being fronts for the drug trade, and were described as such by analyst R.C. Whalen at a 1993 US congressional hearing. Together with a secretive binational strip-mining operation called Dos Republicas, the Anciras tried to get a Tex-Mex energy deal going by re-vamping a decrepit coal-burning power plant on the border, named Carbon II. They convinced the World Bank, Citibank and Southern California Edison to invest over $250 million in the project. It was a disaster.

The Anciras’ reputation sank as fast as a rust-eaten bucket, and partners and investors began to look for ways out. The Ancira family was accused by shareholders of wasting extraordinary amounts of money on corporate jets, limousines and other luxuries. Not to mention their extensive purchases of San Antonio real estate. Just last year, while the company amassed nearly $2 billion in debt and had to suspend payments, the Anciras began quietly moving property titles to Cayman Island holding companies, with the help of their front man Marcelo Sánchez.

Carbon II should have been the kind of project Governor Bush would have embraced: a model energy venture between Mexico and the US. But as environmentalists’ complaints about air pollution grew louder, Bush’s comments grew guarded. By the time of the project’s final demise in 1995 — due to mismanagement as well as the fact that its approval by Salinas had been blatantly illegal — Bush was given credit for heeding environmental concerns.

By the time his 1998 re-election rolled around, W was already said to be working on his run for the White House, and in Texas he once again relied on the Latino vote. He was also working to strengthen energy ties with Mexico. That fall, he held a press conference with Mexico’s Secretary of Energy Luis Téllez. Together they promised a new era in which Texas and Mexico would essentially erase the border and create a “common market” for gas and electricity production and consumption, as well as an integrated electrical network.

One month later, with help from the Amigos de Bush, George W. surpassed Roy Barrera’s record and pulled in a hefty 39 to 49 percent of the Latino vote. He won in a landslide. He was already counting on the Republican presidential nomination.

Still Running with Wolves

It’s been a wild ride since the 1989 White House dinner. Bush Sr. lost the presidency, and he and his wife Barbara are now campaigning for their son. Carlos Salinas is self-exiled in Ireland and Cuba. His brother Raúl is in prison.

This year, Roy Barrera Jr. is on the campaign trail with W. He has “rumbled,” say the papers, about running for governor. But the shadow of past relationships continues to haunt him.

Last year, Barrera Jr. landed in the hot seat. He represented millionaire Allan Blackthorne after the contract-style murder of Blackthorne’s ex-wife, Sheila Bellush. The case made national headlines because Bellush was stabbed to death in front of her toddler quadruplets, and they crawled in her blood until they were found.

The hit man, José Del Toro, fled to Mexico and was represented by none other than Barrera’s old Gulf cartel client, the prestigious office of Enrique Fuentes León. Barrera was dropped as Blackthorne’s lawyer, and the US Justice Department began investigating who paid Del Toro’s presumably high-priced legal bills. Del Toro said, in a taped interview, that he was told by his U.S. lawyer that Barrera had hired Fuentes León. Roy’s father admits that the Barreras and the Fuentes León family have remained close through the years. The Justice Department’s findings have not been revealed.

Roy Barrera, however, is rumored in the press to be hoping for a ride with W. to Washington, his eye on a cabinet position. Bush aides say it’s premature to talk about it, but Texas is all a-buzz with murmurs.


ERNESTO ANCIRA’S car dealership is expected to top $600 million in sales this year. Ancira was one of the first to donate to Bush’s presidential exploratory committee, but lately has remained behind the scenes. Surprisingly, the Republic National Committee and Bush campaign people in charge of Hispanic outreach say they’ve never heard of Ancira. “He must be very grass roots,” a spokesperson told me.

Well, not exactly.

Ernie can’t stop getting involved with guys who get in trouble. He’s now one of the “heavy hitters” paying $1,000 each to host a September fundraiser for State Senator Frank Madla, who is under investigation by a federal grand jury. Apparently Madla accepted inappropriate favors from Eddie “The Bingo King” García, murdered in 1998 in what prosecutors called a contract hit.

The Ancira name surfaced again in August when former Mexico City mayor Oscar Espinosa became a fugitive, under an arrest warrant for embezzling $45 million of the people’s money. Mexican newspapers reported he was last seen under the protection of armed guards, provided by the Anciras in their company town in Coahuila.

Gus García’s patron Anuar Name has been named by Mexican law enforcement as the business partner of a ex-governor running from charges of taking Juárez cartel payoffs.


RIGHT AFTER MEXICO’S July elections, some members of the winning PAN party have clamored for the country to re-open investigations into the assassination of Ruiz Massieu and Muñoz Rocha’s activities in San Antonio. Private investigator J. Alberto Villasana told the PAN president in a July 15 letter, “I believe that since Fox and the PAN have won, we should be aware of a very delicate matter: we will soon be facing binational criminal groups to which the previous administrations have been accomplices.”

In Mexico today, there is a changing of the guard. But president-elect Vicente Fox has made it clear that the trend toward massive privatization of industries will continue at full speed — even Robert Mosbacher has hinted he’d like the national oil company Pemex to hurry up and privatize, and he might like a job there, too.

If he is elected, Bush has promised there will be a “special relationship” with Mexico. In his family, the special relationship has long been there.

So — goes the logic — if Ernie has a few unpleasant friends and partners, what of it? Ditto for Bush’s self-proclaimed “representative,” Roy Barrera. As long as he hasn’t touched the dirty goods himself, Bush has been able to benefit from these men’s vote-winning and trade-promoting influence. Does this make Bush guilty by association? If he didn’t know about their cartel connections, probably not. (I called his campaign office and asked if the Governor knew about these relationships, and did not receive a response by press time.) But the question has to be asked: if some of us far outside of the Bush camp know about those connections, how come Bush didn’t?

George W. Bush has made his lust for the Latino vote clear. “If you say a million, I want you to spend two million. If you say you need four million, I want you to spend eight,” W told Lionel Sosa, head of the Bush Latino media campaigns.

What is not clear is who Bush will be willing to consort with to earn that vote. And, if he wins the presidency, what is the true nature of the special relationship he will forge between our two nations, the US and Mexico, in the coming years?

Julia Reynolds is the editorial director of El Andar.

© 2000 El Andar Media Inc.