Four senior Mexican army officers are facing charges from state prosecutors for alleged ties to a drug cartel. It's the most high-profile military corruption case in the past 15 years.
Gen. Roberto Dawe Gonzalez and three retired officers, Generals Tomas Angeles Dauahare and Ricardo Escorcia and Lt. Col. Silvio Hernandez Soto, were arrested in May in connection with an investigation of the now-defunct Beltran Leyva Cartel and have been held in custody until their hearing Tuesday, when the Mexican Attorney General's Office formally filed charges of "organized crime to further drug-trafficking" against them.
Specifics about the case have not been released, but also charged in the case is Edgar Valdes Villarreal, aka "La Barbie," the Mexican-American gang boss who rose to the leadership of the Beltran Leyva Cartel through a bloody path and was later arrested in Mexico City in 2010.
The deployment of the army in Mexico's streets to combat the drug cartels has been an integral strategy in outgoing President Felipe Calderon's anti-drug policy over the past six years.
The Mexican army is an institution considered to be less prone to corruption than local law enforcement, which has generally been true, but this recent corruption scandal among high-ranking officers threatens to severely diminish confidence in the military's capacity to fight the war on drugs.
Gen. Dawe commanded an army base in Colima state on Mexico's Pacific coast along a key drug trafficking route, while Gen. Escorcia, before retiring in 2010, was head of the military in Morales state where the Beltran Leyva Cartel was dominant.
Gen. Angeles served as assistant defense minister from 2006 until his retirement in 2008, and Lt. Col. Hernandez retired from the army in 2002 and became a top police commander in Sinaloa state, the home territory of the Sinaloa Cartel, considered not only the most powerful drug trafficking organization in Mexico, but arguably the world.
While the details of these four officer's alleged crimes will have to wait to be unveiled over the course of the trial, the charges indicate the possible presence corruption at some of the highest levels within the military.
However, this is not the first high-level corruption scandal involving the drug cartels to hit the Mexican military, even at the highest level.
In 1997, army General Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, who headed the country's anti-narcotics agency, was found to be on the payroll of the Juarez Cartel, then Mexico's most powerful criminal organization.
As a result, Mexico's four-year-old National Institute to Combat Drugs was shut down and its 1,100 agents purged.
"If the charges against Angeles and the other officers are true, Mexicans are bound to experience a similar sinking feeling," wrote Time Magazine's Latin American Bureau Chief Tim Padgett in a May 2012 article.
"Now, as then, the only real remedy is to phase out Mexico's reliance on the military and develop genuinely professional, investigative police forces."
But that is a monumental task that requires extensive law enforcement and judicial reform, and will ultimately be left to President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto -- who takes office in December -- to see through.