West Texas attorney denies money was drug-related

October 25, 2013 12:41:00 PM PDT
A West Texas lawyer accused of conspiring to launder drug money has argued that prosecutors want to trap him with lies and fabricated evidence.

Marco Antonio Delgado took the stand again Friday. He is accused of devising a scheme to launder up to $600 million for a Mexican drug cartel in 2007 and 2008. Closing arguments could come Friday afternoon in the trial, being held in a federal court in El Paso.

Delgado said Thursday and Friday that he never knew the funds he handled for the now disbanded Milenio cartel were illegal.

Prosecutors showed the jury emails they say he exchanged with his girlfriend at the time, Lilian De La Concha, in which she thought Delgado had cancer.

De la Concha, former wife of Mexico's former president Vicente Fox Quesada, was in a romantic relationship at the time of the money moving operation, prosecutors said. Phone calls recorded by agents show that she relayed messages back and forth between Delgado and a man known as Chuy, the alleged intermediary between the cartel and Delgado and De La Concha.

Federal agents and Victor Pimentel, a former associate of Delgado who's now a government witness, have testified that Delgado told De La Concha he had cancer in order to break off the relationship after the operation proved unsuccessful.

The emails presented Friday were given to the government by De La Concha through an intermediary, prosecutor Debra Kanof told the court. In them, De La Concha appears to be worried about his health and urges him undergo a treatment of aloe vera that she said has proven successful in other cancer patients. She also asks him if he has holy water from the Virgin of Lourdes.

Delgado told the court he does not remember ever exchanging those emails with De La Concha, and called the evidence "fishy." Fox had left office by the time his ex-wife and Delgado were involved.

Prosecutors are expected to call another former girlfriend of Delgado on Friday afternoon.

Federal agents have previously testified that after Delgado was arrested with $1 million, he confessed and agreed to cooperate but continued moving drug money behind his handlers' backs.

At the time of his arrest, Delgado had given a $250,000 endowment for a scholarship named after him to assist Hispanic students, the Carnegie Mellon University website said. He also was a regular contributor to the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and a member of a local educational foundation.

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