The former macrista official Susana Martinengo and 21 other people, most of them spies, were arrested this morning by order of the federal judge in Lomas de Zamora Federico Villena, who is investigating a case. for alleged illegal espionage carried out during the government of Mauricio Macri, revealed to Infobae judicial sources. The 22 accused will be investigated tomorrow and are accused of the crimes of illegal espionage and illegal association.
In addition to Martinengo, who was in charge of coordinating the Presidential Documentation area at the Casa Rosada, the arrest list includes Jorge “Turco” Sáez, Leandro Araque, Facundo Melo, brothers Emiliano and Julián Matta, Mercedes Funes Silva, Andrea Fermani, Daiana Baldassarre, Denisse Aya Tenorio, María Belén Sáez (daughter of “Turco”), Jorge Ochoa, Andrés penitentiary Rodríguez and former member of the Federal Police Gustavo Ciccarelli.
The judge also ordered the arrest of Diego Dalmau Pereyra, former head of Counterintelligence during Macri’s early years; and of Martin Terra, the ex-husband of Analía Maiorana -wife Diego Santilli– who entered AFI in the management of Gustavo Arribas. Santilli is one of the spies on this file.
The list of arrests is completed with the agents Jonathan Nievas, Javier Bustos and Mariano Ignacio Flores, who reported to the City Police and worked at the AFI. The judge also ordered the arrest of Dominique Lasaigues., who worked in the City Government; and Juan Carlos Rodríguez, who worked in the Buenos Aires Ministry of Justice and Security. Its connection would be given by the commercial and patrimonial reports that the band obtained.
Alan Ruiz, former AFI director of Special Operations and formerly a Patricia Bullrich official in the Ministry of Security, meanwhile, was already imprisoned in another case. The total arrests total 22 people, of which 18 were members of the WhatsApp group « Super Mario Bross ». According to the judicial investigation, in that group the spies shared the dossiers, the photographs, the filming and everything they obtained from their illegal espionage. The group was created by Ruiz on October 26, 2018 and was originally called « Luigi ». On November 14 of the same year, the name was changed to « Super Mario Bross ». Mario and Luigi are the brothers of a famous video game from the 80s.
Judge Villena has investigated since last March an alleged illegal espionage network that targeted the vice president Cristina Kirchner, to the head of the Buenos Aires Government Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, former Buenos Aires governor María Eugenia Vidal, trade unionists Hugo and Pablo Moyano, former deputies of the PRO Emilio Monzó and Nicolás Massot, the federal chambermaid Martín Irurzun, the former mayor of La Plata Pablo Bruera, businessman Fabián de Sousa, among others. Today 21 new victims were known in the case.
The magistrate, based on the testimony of the drug trafficker Sergio “Verdura” Rodríguez, raided different former AFI agents and found the WhatsApp groups “Super Mario Bross” and “Argentina” on their cell phones, which were made up of three agents and in which they also shared what they got from espionage.
The judge had searched Martinengo at the end of May. His cell phone had been hijacked. Last Thursday, Villena raided the house of Darío Nieto, Mauricio Macri’s private secretary. His name was mentioned in messages from Martinengo, Araque and Sáez. His defense also asked for the prison exemption, but the prosecutor Cecilia Incardona, as in all cases, he objected. The material seized from Macri’s secretary’s home – cell phones, computers, documents – has not yet been analyzed, they told Infobae the sources consulted.
Villena’s reasons for ordering the arrests
In the resolution to which he agreed Infobae, the judge stated that arrests are arranged to proceed with the investigation and face the dangers of flight or hindrance. In the brief, the judge reviews the instances of the beginning of the case: the revelation of the drug trafficker Sergio “Verdura” Rodríguez, the measures to establish if Melo was an AFI agent as the detainee said, the search warrants and the kidnappings of cell phones, keys to advance the cause.
« An analysis of the elements collected revealed the existence of different WhatsApp groups, especially one called ‘Super Mario Bross’, the content of which would show that the people detailed below would be involved in the commission of different illegal maneuvers, which would have affected multiple people from different spheres of public administration, as well as from the political, social and union sphere of our country, « he said.
After highlighting « the multiple investigative measures » that were carried out in the case, the judge stated: « I understand that the investigative progress has achieved the incorporation of new evidence that allows us to maintain that in the case the degree of suspicion regarding the the named ones ”to call them for investigation. « Because of this, in order to ensure the appearance of those appointed to the bench of this Court, I will have to order their immediate arrests. »
« It should be noted that the magnitude of the illicit structure reviewed, whose insertion would cover different areas of the National, Provincial and Local State, allows us to presume that those who would have participated in the events under investigation have the means and / or links to evade the application of the penal law », Held. And he added: « It must be taken into account that, by virtue of the work carried out by the accused, it is possible to sustain well that given their expertise they could hinder the development of the process by altering evidence or using their influences to remove themselves from their obligations, as absent from attending the call to provide an investigative statement. «
Villena stated: « The profuse evidence that is being analyzed by this Court allows us to infer that the appointees would maintain links with personnel from different security forces and subjects not yet individualized, that could facilitate their interference to thwart the investigation. » And stressed that « The investigated have resources that could generate a certain risk of intimidation towards the victims or witnesses, either by themselves, or by third parties”, Which –said the judge–“ imposes on the subscriber to raise the risk threshold in the case, since the deepening of the investigation has allowed the construction of a more complete panorama, which prevents ruling out, for the reasons stated, that the investigated will not try to evade the actions of justice ”.
The arrests take place at a special moment in the file with open definitions of the continuity of Villena in the case and of the file in Lomas de Zamora. Both could happen in the short term. The judge of the Federal Chamber of La Plata Roberto Lemos Arias he has to resolve a request by the defenses of the spies Araque, Melo and Sáez for recusal against Villena. Last week there was a hearing in which the chambermaid heard the arguments and now must resolve.
The situation of the accused
Araque and Melo were the only ones who had not obtained the prison exemptionTherefore, their arrests could be made from one moment to another. His defenses awaited luck in the Federal Chamber of La Plata to overturn that decision. The rest of the spies who had presented themselves in the case had obtained that exemption, although the guarantee of non-arrest during the process was appealed by the prosecutor.
The operation was carried out this morning by division personnel Federal Operations of the Federal Police. According to judicial sources, work was done throughout the morning to finalize the procedure. The detainees were taken to the Dangerous Drugs division of the Federal Police, on Belgrano Avenue, waiting to be taken to court.
Precisely, Sáez, who had asked for protection and feared for his safety, yesterday had reported the presence of a suspicious car circulating several times in front of his house, taking photos of him. He feared he was going to be the victim of an attack. He never believed that his arrest was being planned because he had an exemption, they admitted to Infobae sources in your environment.
Araque also saw a car driving around his home. The judicial observers were surprised that Melo did not go to sleep in the apartment where he usually lives. By these hours they were looking for him in another department. His defense, in charge of Fernando SiciliaMeanwhile, he denied rumors of a possible escape and stated that his client went to court by his own means.
Several of the detainees had paraded through the bicameral commission for monitoring and oversight of intelligence agencies to tell what operations they had carried out, although they were always justified in carrying out orders.
Ruiz is already detained but for another parallel cause being investigated in Lomas de Zamora: that of illegal espionage at the Patria Institute and Cristina Kirchner’s house, a complaint filed by the AFI of Cristina Caamano. In that investigation, he was imprisoned at the request of the prosecutor Incardona and the order of judge Juan Pablo Auge. The lawyer Leandro Emsani had appealed the release, treating the detention as « arbitrary », with grounds « wrong and far from the evidentiary elements ». Now the former AFI chief of Special Operations was also arrested in this investigation.
A curiosity: in the cause of the Patria Institute several of the spies who were arrested today had testified as witnesses of a reserved identity against Ruiz. The defense of that former high-ranking AFI agent had criticized that they were witnesses « neither more nor less than the active agents who participated in the investigated events » and maintained that they should at least have declared as « repentant defendants ».
After this wave of arrests, which surprised the accused, several defenders confirmed to Infobae than they will present in the next few hours requests for release and / or house arrest. They complain because they understand that they could remain free for the duration of the investigation. They assure that they do not have a record and the crimes attributed to them have a minimum of three years in prison and are therefore released. They also emphasize that the majority ceased to be in office at the AFI.
The defense strategy will aim to question that, before arranging arrests, all the other alternative measures that came into effect in November 2019, when the bicameral commission put a limit on preventive prisons, would not have been analyzed. Another of the arguments that will put the defenses into play is the coronavirus scenario: In a context of a strong spread of the pandemic, the defenders were preparing statements warning of the danger of taking their clients to prison, some of whom – they claim – would fall within the so-called risk groups.
Meanwhile, today they met, according to what he knew Infobae from judicial sources, new victims of illegal espionage There are 21 people, including Peronist leaders and social movements and businessmen. It was also the Current Class and Combative Movement and the Polo Obrero Movement.
Among the new victims are the deputy governor of Buenos Aires, Veronica Magario; the mayor of La Matanza, Fernando Espinosa; the mayor of Malvinas Argentinas, Leonardo Nardini, the former mayor of Moreno Walter Festa; the former mayor of Ramallo and current national official Mauro Poletti; the head of INADI, Victoria Donda; the national deputy of the Front of All Eduardo Valdés, Leonardo Grosso, Carlos Castagnetto. Also the former national deputy Diego Bossio and the president of the Kolina group, Gastón Castagnetto. And the businessman Lázaro Báez and Cristonal López, the two detainees (López is no longer) and their espionages are linked to the Ezeiza prison as part of the judicial investigation is focused there.
Judge Villena has already summoned everyone to go to court to hear the evidence and decide whether to present themselves as a plaintiff. In the chapter of victims of social movements are Juan Grabois, Esteban Castro, Emilio Pérsico, Daniel Menéndez, Juan Marino, Revolutionary Piquetera Tendency Movement. Also the union member of UCORA Herald Cayuqueo.
Finally they are as victims Matías Arregger, head of advisers to the national deputy Graciela Camano (Who also spied with her husband, the unionist Luis Barrionuevo with photos at his house) the lawyer Mauricio D’Alessandro, one of the best known in the country.