The food provided by these companies contained maggots, worms, and cockroaches
A corporate of companies that had been fined for the poor quality of their products, whose bank accounts were blocked by the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) for alleged irregular operations linked to money laundering, and accused of providing food and basic products to Nicolás Maduro’s government , have received contracts for MXN 1,150 million to distribute food in prisons, hospitals, the National Guard, and other government institutions. These companies have monopolized this service since Vicente Fox’s administration.
The companies in question are Corporativo Kosmos and Abastos y Distribuciones Institucionales (Abadi), owned by the Landsmanas family, of Latvian-Luthuanian origin.
According to information obtained through Compranet, in 2020, Abadi obtained contracts for MXN 964,694,617.51: MXN 572,410,181.84 from the IMSS; MXN 313,986,410.33 from the National Guard; MXN 27,888,058.94 from Mexico City’s Federal Education Authorities; MXN 16,928,994.86 grom the Federico Gómez Hospital; MXN 13,280,000 from the state of Chihuahua; MXN 12,650,698.77 from the DIF; MXN 3,986,510.77 from the Michoacán government, and MXN 3,563,762 from the ISSSTE.
Meanwhile, Café Bersa, owned by Corporativo Kosmos, obtained contracts for MXN 24,865,374.26: MXN 19,545,142.81 from the Labor Ministry; MXN 3,268,103.45 from the Federal Procurator’s Office for the Defense of Workers, and MXN 2, 052, 128 from the IMSS.
Productos Serel, also owned by Corporativo Kosmos, received contracts for MXN 160,046,401.48 in 2020: It obtained MXN 5,945,245.37 from Oaxaca’s Regional Hospital; MXN 43,486,427 from the Juárez Hospital; MXN 22,362,140.99 from Airports and Auxiliary Services; MXN 25,452,189 from the Attorney General’s Office; MXN 47,413,793.10 from the DIF; and MXN 15,386,606 from the IMSS.
When Francisco Garduño Yáñez led the Federal Prison System earlier this year, I talked about the existence of a company that had advantageous contracts in federal prisons but he didn’t mention any names.
On February 20, 2019, President López Obrador was questioned about the accusations made by Garduño Yáñez. The Mexican President said he was reviewing the case and that he would provide more information regarding the acquisition of food for federal prisons in a week.
On February 25, VICE Mexico, in collaboration with Quinto Elementos Lab, published an article titled “The food cartel.” The article explained that La Cosmopolitana has been the main food supplier for federal prisons during the last 18 years. This company is part of Corporativo Kosmos, that according to investigations, obtained contracts for over MXN 29,000 million between 2002 and 2019.
The founder, Ilja (Elías) Landsmanas, arrived in Mexico in 1959 along with his parents Pejsach and Chaja Dymensztejn from Latvia and Lithuania.
Pejsach worked in a butchery owned by Lithuanian immigrant León Brener and then founded his butchery, La Modelo.
With the help of Elías and Jorge, I have expanded his business to chicken and other products. They bought several warehouses from the Mexican government and bought a fleet of cars. They created La Cosmopolitana, Servicios Parel, Café Bersa, which for the Kosmos group, now led by Jack Landsmanas, as well as Abadi. Both companies compete in tenders and contracts awarded by federal and state governments.
Their first contracts with the government were signed during Vicente Fox’s administration. In 2002, the companies had contracts for MXN 6 million but these increase to MXN 343 million in 2009, and to MXN 5,000 million in 2018.
According to the article by VICE, other suppliers who have competed in the same market, the Landsmanas family are fond of discretion and mercantile aggression. Others say that they influence the tenders so that thanks to their monopolistic structure and size, only the companies owned by the Kosmos group can fulfill contracts.
Between November 2010 and November 2011, César Mora Eguiarte, the head of acquisitions at the IMSS leaked information to executives at La Cosmopolitana and Productos Serel so that they could easily win the tenders.
In its website, Corporativo Kosmos explains that its service is supported by 50 years of experience; However, none of the companies are registered in the Public Commerce Registry.
Kosmos provides 700 tons of food for over 3 million inmates, hospital patients, children living in DIF facilities, and workers stationed at oil rigs every day. They also provide food for cafeterias in different government offices and schools.
On June 7, 2012, after several complaints and an audit carried out by the Public Administration Office, authorities fined the consortium with MXN 180,469.
Nevertheless, the complaints persisted:
- In Islas Marías Penintiary, inmates rioted on February 2, 2013. They complained about the lack of water and the quality of food.
- Over 600 inmates intoxicated in the Puente Grande prison in Guadalajara on May 24, 2014. They consumed soy ceviche contaminated with salmonella.
- A 2017 study carried out by the History and Anthropology Investigation and Studies Center and the Investigation and Economic Teaching Center in four prisons found that food contained threads, maggots, worms, and cockroaches.
Businesses in Venezuela
La Cosmopolitana was one of three Mexican companies that took advantage of the Venezuelan people by selling low-quality groceries with a premium of up to 120% to the Local Supply and Production Committees (CLAP).
Since 2017, the consortium sent up to 1 million groceries to Venezuela from Veracruz.
On October 3 and 5, 2018, the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) blocked bank accounts owned by the companies involved, including three Mexican companies and Maduro’s operators: Alex Naim Saab, Shadi Naim Saab, Álvaro Pulido Vargas, Emanuel Enrique Rubio, and Andrés Eduardo León Rodríguez; Rodríguez is a legal representative for Group Grand Limited from Hong Kong.
On October 18, 2018, the PGR the network that sold food to Venezuela after the UIF pressed charges. On February 7, 2019, a Mexico City judge awarded a protective measure to Group Grand Limited.
Source: El Universal