Skip to main content

Mexican officials investigate whether priest accepted drug money

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Money from a cartel leader may have been used to build a chapel, a church official said
  • The priest has been suspended until federal inquiry is complete
  • "Corrupting tentacles" reach all levels of society, the church says

Mexico City, Mexico (CNN) -- Mexican federal authorities are investigating whether a Roman Catholic priest received money from a top narcotrafficker to build a chapel, a church official said Monday.

The inquiry centers on whether the head of the notorious Zetas drug cartel, Heriberto Lazcano, donated money to a church in Hidalgo state, the government-run Notimex news agency reported, citing Mexican archdiocese spokesman Hugo Valdemar.

News reports said a plaque naming financial donors to the chapel lists Lazcano.

The federal attorney general's office and the archdiocese of Mexico are investigating, the news outlet said.

The priest who reportedly accepted the money, whom church officials declined to identify, has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, Notimex said.

Mexico's bishops eagerly support jailing any priest who takes money from drug traffickers, Valdemar said, according to Notimex.

The church spokesman said there is no sector of Mexican society that can escape the narcotraffickers' "corrupting tentacles." The government, military, police and media also have been infiltrated, church officials say.

"They are very isolated cases," Valdemar said. "We can't talk about the church in general. And, of course, these cases fall under the responsibility of those priests, communities that have received this type of aid."

Another archdiocese spokesman said priests cannot accept dirty money under any circumstance, no matter what the intent.

"The church can never accept narcotrafficking money even if it is for a good cause," the Rev. Jose de Jesus Aguilar told CNN en Español. "The aim of narcotrafficking is always destruction, even if it is disguised as goodness."

CNN en Español's Krupskaia Alis contributed to this report.