Who Murdered Pedro Palazuelos?

Pedro pictured at right
Pedro pictured at right

 

It is hard to know where to start regarding Pedro Palazuelos. So I will simply start by saying that it is with the utmost regret that I must send my heart felt condolences to the family of Pedro. I met Pedro many years ago. His grand children went to school with my children here in the Ranchitos, in kinder and later at Cuahtemoc elementary school.

Pedro Palazuelos was a lawyer and, based on my anecdotal observations of the cases I spoke to him about, a damn good one at that. He was involved in many high profile real estate fraud cases in San Carlos. Their was one case in particular that sums up how fucked up things are in San Carlos and on this one case I personally spend many months investigating and reporting.

 

Many will remember the trumped up charges brought against Susan Caneli and Kimberly McDonald by a man named Javier Ordaz.

 

Mr Ordaz made the ridiculous claim that these two women had actually threatened his life when what they really did was threaten the ability of his sisters to steal a bunch of property up on the Caracol. We proved with out a shadow of a doubt that the MP in Guaymas had been completely corrupted by bribes from the Ordaz family. Pedro eventually won that case and all charges against the two women were dropped. It took years for the case to be won when in reality any investigator worth a dime could have shown it was all a bunch of bull shit in less than two weeks. Such is Mexico’s dysfunctional legal system. You are assumed guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

Such is Mexico’s dysfunctional legal system. You are assumed guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

The other case where I actually met with Pedro and personally investigated was at the Costa del Mar (CDM) housing development out on Algodones beach. In that case it was clear Pedro wasn’t really representing the side of justice. The Costa del Mar was a fascinating case for me. It not only showed what a really great lawyer Pedro but was but also how incredibly corrupt the Guaymas judicial system is. In a nut shell what happened was a foolish American retiree actually attacked and attempted to assault a Mexican resident. Both parties lived at Costa del Mar. The American was the boyfriend of the president of the home owners association. There is actually an iphone video of the event shot by the man who was getting assaulted. How good was Pedro? He hired a video expert in Hermosillo and paid him to testify that the video was edited and thus not admissible as evidence in the case. I consulted my own expert and the video was as pure as the driven snow and was unedited. The defendants girlfriend in this case actually bragged about how their lawyer had bribed the ministerio publico (MP) in Guaymas to rule in favor of the American.

The case was refreshing in a sense since it was the Americans who had wronged a Mexian. The lawyer brided the (MP) to keep his client out of jail. It was all done by the way with CDM HOA money. The bill for Pedro’s services was over 20,000 dollars. Pedro easily won that case, the American passed away from Cancer and the HOA for CDM was out 20 grand. When the defendant died that ended the pesky appeals process.

Pedro was gunned down at a church in Guaymas in broad daylight in front of his whole family after attending the confirmation of his grand daughter on March 14th. Depending on which shitty article you read through the normal shitty Mexican media sites it was either two or three guys who got out of a non desrcript grey car and one of the subjects shot Pedro at least once or possibly eight times. No matter what the real number of bullets the net results were still the same. Another sad Guaymas statistic of a murder that will in all likely hood will remain unsolved with a family left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

98% of murders in Mexico remain unsolved, there is no reason to believe that Pedro’s murder will be any different than the rest.

Just hours earlier Pedro had posted on his face book page that the state district attorney for Sonora along with a notary public were guilty of corruption and fraud. He also posted that the nephew of the current PAN candidate for governor was also involved in the corruption.

The case Pedro was working on has only had one really excellent article published on it that I am aware of from a media outlet online called dossierpolitico.  The case centers around the development of Bahia Esmeralda (BE) which is located just next to the Marina Vista and Marina Real developments at Algodones bay. According to court documents George Sazbo started developing BE officially on the 10th of June of 1999. The area sits on approximately 17 hectares/42 acres of land. Sazbo took on a  local builder as a partner for the development. His name was Wilfredo Aldana Cantu or better known in San Carlos as Pilo Aldana or also el “Arqui”, short for architect. Apparently Pilo studied architecture at the University of Arizona but did not finish his degree.

On July 13th 2010 George Sazbo had a fatal motorcycle accident in the bay and died of his injuries. Within about a year after the accident George Sazbo’s heirs claimed that Pilo Aldana had forged the minutes to corporate meeting’s and other corporate documents that essentially gave damn near the whole development to himself. Pilo then sold George Sazbos home to a third party. Georges ashes were still in the house when it was sold. The rumors were that the house was sold to a local drug cartel. Many other lots were sold during that time.

Three years earlier in May of 2007 George had lent Pilo 200,000 dollars. All of this is in the public record. The agreement was that if Pilo did not repay the money within a certain amount of time then all of Pilo’s shares in the Bahia Esmeralda corporation would be forfeited. The time to pay the loan back had come and gone and George had started the legal process to have Pilo expunged from the corporation on the 7th of June 2010. Just one month later George died in the motorcycle crash. The conspiracy theorists out there can have a field day with that  time line and chronology of events.

Pilos problems were just beginning. Apparently he thought that George’s daughter and only heir would walk away from the Bahia Esmeralda development. He was sadly mistaken of course and Pedro Palazuelos was hired to take on the case. Pedro was clearly winning the case in Mexico but Pilo was about to have some much bigger problems coming his way in the United States. In February of 2011 the DEA and IRS began an investigation into a local methamphetamine and cocaine drug trafficking  organization based in Mexico and Arizona. Was one of those bases in San Carlos? According to this document from the United States District Court of Arizona a phone call was intercepted by a man nicknamed “Cholo” who speaks to a man nicknamed el “Arqui”. El Arqui is short for architect and that would be Pilo Aldana. You can simply down load the document and read the whole thing your self but in a nut shell over the course of the next few weeks Pilo was under constant surveillance and his phone was tapped.

Clearly Pilo Aldana did not pull the trigger that killed Pedro Palazuelos. But it is possible that Pedro is dead because of Pilo Aldana.

On May 11th el Arqui deposited a total of 80,800 dollars into 10 different Wells Fargo bank accounts at various branches in Arizona. The amount never exceeded more than $10,000 dollars. I guess he figured he was safe since everyone knows that bells and whistles go off with the IRS if you deposit more than 10 grand. He was also in and out of his safety deposit box at this time, Several of these accounts were held by Pilo’s relatives. By the end of May the DEA was monitoring Pilo as he would enter into Arizona. He would then make the 10,000 deposits of money and eventually wire the money back into Mexico.

Between May 10th and June 4th of 2011 Pilo received 376,00 dollars in cash from “Cholo” and of that money deposited and transfered $118,415 dollars between 11 different bank accounts. The money was used to purchase cashiers checks that would ultimately go into the purchase of a house in Scottsdale Arizona. The price of the house was $370,000 dollars, mas o menos. Pilo was an awfully busy beaver that month.
Does all this lead back to the death of Pedro Palazuelos? I was told something rather disturbing by a journalist that was at the scene of Pedro’s murder. He told me that Pedro’s wife screamed the name of Pilo Aldana at the assassins. Pilo was also accused of the murder of Pedro on Facebook. So the PGR has a leading suspect in this murder case. The only question is will they investigate it? Clearly Pilo Aldana did not pull the trigger that killed Pedro Palazuelos. But it is possible that Pedro is dead because of Pilo Aldana. The word on the street is that Pilo has disappeared from San Carlos. The only question now is was his disappearance forced or voluntary and will he stay disappeared permanently?

As a lawyer he was paid to win cases and he worked within a system were the other side routinely fabricated witnesses.

Trying to sum up Pedro in 1500 words or based on the few cases I observed would hardly do justice to the man, as a person of civil society, a father and grand father and as a lawyer. Pedro recently took some heat after his death on one of the local forums for being corrupt. My take on this is that he was a lawyer who was paid to win cases in a system that is corrupt by design. Did that make him corrupt?

As a lawyer he was paid to win cases and he worked within a system were the other side routinely fabricated witnesses. These witnesses are often either coerced or paid to lie. A system where bribing the ministerio pubico (MP) is standard procedure.

Pedro worked within a system so corrupt that in order to win a case for your client you often might be forced to lower yourself to the sins of the other side, for your client. If you do not do this then you know justice can never prevail. Did that make him corrupt or simply a good lawyer?

Did he die because of what he posted on Facebook just two hours before he was gunned down? Was is the drug dealers or corrupt government officials worried about being exposed in a political election year?

In the end Pedro Palazuelos was a complex man who had a loving family and who loved him dearly as well. He will be missed by many.

Vaya con dios Don Pedro, vaya con dios.

 

 

 

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