Former Mexican drug czar heads to trial accused of aiding El Chapo

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Genaro Garcia Luna headed Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 to 2005 and was Minister of Public Security from 2006 to 2012, during which time he worked closely with anti-narcotics agencies and of United States intelligence.

He pleaded not guilty in 2020 to US charges that he accepted millions of dollars to protect the cartel once led by jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn say Garcia Luna gave the Sinaloa Cartel sensitive information about its rivals as well as a safe passage for drug shipments. He faces five charges, including continuing criminal enterprise and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

Garcia Luna, who was arrested in 2019 in Texas, is one of the highest-ranking Mexican officials to be accused of aiding drug-trafficking gangs, and there is considerable speculation inside Mexico about whether the trial could embarrass -former officials, or even former presidents. .

Garcia Luna led public security under former President Felipe Calderon, who sent Mexico’s armed forces to tackle drug cartels and put curbing organized crime at the center of his administration. 2006-2012.

The current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an opponent of Calderon, last Wednesday urged the public to wait and see.

“Everything will come out,” he said during a news conference, and said that American officials should be called to testify if they were involved in events under investigation.

After the arrest of Garcia Luna, Calderon expressed deep shock and issued a statement saying that he was not fully aware of what his former security minister is alleged to have done.

The former president urged to apply “the full force of the law” in case Garcia Luna was found guilty.

$3 MILLION IN BAALIJA

During the eight-week trial, prosecutors plan to call former senior members of the cartel to testify about bribes paid to Garcia Luna, court documents show.

Garcia Luna previously accused drug traffickers of filing false allegations against him as revenge for the actions he took against the cartels. His lawyers said in court documents that their client “had no assets to speak of” when he moved to the United States in 2012, but later made money from his work as a business consultant. security.

During Guzman’s trial in 2018, the brother of one of his partners testified that he had given Garcia Luna a briefcase containing $3 million in 2005 or 2006, and paid him another $3 million to $5 million in 2007. Garcia Luna at the time called out those allegations. “defamatory” and without proof.

Guzman was sentenced to life in prison in 2019 after being convicted in Brooklyn on charges of drug trafficking and conspiracy to murder. He is held in a high security “Supermax” prison in Colorado.

The government of Mexico in 2020 issued its own arrest warrant for Garcia Luna on charges of illegal enrichment. Mexico also sought Garcia Luna in Florida, where he had been living before his arrest in 2019, in an effort to recover what it called illegally obtained assets. The case is still ongoing.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Alistair Bell)

By Luc Cohen

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