Elba Esther Gordillo Morales (February 6, 1945) is a Mexican politician who has been the leader of the 1.4-million strong National Education Workers' Union (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, or SNTE), the largest labor union in Latin America, since 1989. She was formerly affiliated with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI) until 2005, when left and founded the New Alliance Party (Partido Nueva Alianza, or PANAL), which is currently led by her grandson Luis Castro Obregón. Gordillo was arrested by the Mexican authorities on 26 February 2013 on charges of embezzlement and organized crime. Gordillo has held considerable influence over governments and individual Presidents by persuading her union members to vote as a single bloc and suppress enemies.
Gordillo was arrested by the Mexican authorities on 26 February 2013 after her private jet in which she had travelled from California landed at the Toluca airport near the capital. She was arrested for allegedly embezzling $2 billion pesos ($156,816,000 USD or €119,242,600 euros) from the Mexican National Educational Workers Union (SNTE). Prosecutors argue she would not have been able to make several purchases on her salary. ($31,398 pesos or $2,459 USD per month.) She has been charged with embezzlement and organized crime.
The national public schools had been a system dominated by Gordillo's union in which teaching positions could be sold or inherited.