Mexico’s Defense Ministry Suffers Cyberattack

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed that confidential archives were breached detailing security operations, and regarding the president’s ill health

The attack was confirmed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador
By Bloomberg Línea
September 30, 2022 | 04:10 PM

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Mexico City — Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) confirmed Friday that the Defense Ministry suffered a cyberattack in which confidential information was accessed, including details of security operations and the relationship between armed forces leaders, and the president’s health.

“It’s true, there was a cyberattack,” the president said during his routine early morning press conference, confirming earlier media reports by journalist Carlos Loret de Mola in a YouTube broadcast by Latinus media.

According to the report, the cyberattack was carried out by an international group called ‘Guacamaya’, which has also tapped into documents from the armed forces of other Latin American countries such as Colombia, El Salvador, Chile, Guatemala and Peru.

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According to Loret de Mola, among the thousands of documents and e-mails, compressed into six terabytes, there are reports on the tracking of high-ranking personalities, such as US ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar, in addition to intelligence reports and transcriptions of wiretaps.

The information obtained covers a period from 2016 to September 2022.

In a calm mood, the president began the morning press conference with a laugh as he made a joke about his current state of health, a matter about which the government has divulged little information.

Confidential Sedena documents reveal that AMLO, as the president is known, suffers from gout, hypothyroidism and “unstable tonsils with serious risk”, according to one of the documents presented by Latinus.

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There were also details of emergency transfers of the president to military hospitals, some of which were not officially communicated at the time.

On January 10 of this year, López Obrador communicated via Twitter that he had been infected with Covid-19 for the second time, but eight days earlier an air ambulance had transported him from Palenque in Chiapas state to the Central Military Hospital in Mexico City.

That leaked document specified a “serious diagnosis”.

López Obrador confirmed the fact, and added that he had been at risk of heart attack.

In 2013, when he was founding the political party under whose banner he came to power in 2018, Movimiento Regeneración Nacional (Morena), AMLO suffered an acute myocardial infarction.

The president also confirmed that he suffers from all the “ailments” mentioned in the documents, but argued that such information was already in the public domain, and also spoke of others, without specifying them by name.

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“Yes, they are true. I am sick. I have several ailments, there is only one thing I don’t have, alcohol, but the rest I do, as well as other ailments,” referring to the fact that he is teetotal.

He added that to take care of himself, he takes a cocktail of pills and monitors himself every three or four months.

AMLO tried to liven up the issue of his health again with a song from the repertoire of singer Chico Che, with whom he has previously sent indirect messages.

In August, after the United States announced that it would activate the consultation mechanism of the USMCA free trade agreement due to discrepancies in Mexico’s energy policy, López Obrador responded the following day with the song “Uy, qué miedo” (Oh, what fear).

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Now, regarding his health, he asked to play the song “Que no me quiso el ejército” (The army didn’t want me).

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Latinus’ revelation gave just a glimpse of the thousands of documents obtained by ‘Guacamaya’ and leaked to Mexican media outlets and comes at a time when the government is trying to consummate the power of the Mexican Army, not only to manage, build and control strategic infrastructure such as customs and airports, but also as a powerful player in public security tasks.

A reform that intends to give the military more of a role in public security, in a bid to combat the violence that affects many states in the country, is still under review in the Senate.

The leaked information also reveals the lack of military personnel at Cancún International Airport customs, one of the busiest and most strategic in the country, as well as a letter that reveals the tone of the relationship between the Secretary of the Navy, Admiral Rafael Ojeda, and Luis Cresencio Sandoval, National Defense Minister.

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The documents also provide details of a highly criticized security operation in 2019, known as the ‘Culiacanazo’, which consisted of the brief arrest and subsequent release of Ovidio Guzmán, son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, which led to a a series of simultaneous clashes in the city of Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa state, between organized criminals and authorities, and in which several people were killed.

Ovidio Guzmán was released shortly afterwards in a bid to calm tensions in Culiacán.