Drug trial starts for Mexico’s former top security official

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MEXICO CITY — The person who was as soon as Mexico’s prime safety official and in command of combating the drug cartels went on trial Tuesday on prices he accepted thousands and thousands of {dollars} in bribes in trade for serving to the highly effective Sinaloa Cartel transfer medicine and its members keep away from seize.

Genaro García Luna was finest often called the mumbling, tough-looking former safety secretary underneath ex-President Felipe Calderón, who spearheaded the bloody warfare on cartels between 2006 and 2012.

Prosecutors say García Luna was so brazen he accepted tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars}, usually stuffed in briefcases. The proof in opposition to him consists of pay stubs, although whether or not they’re from official jobs, non-public sector consultancy, cartel funds or different bribes is unclear.

They are saying he continued to stay off his ill-gotten proceeds even after he moved to the USA, the place he was arrested in 2019, although the protection says he was a respectable businessman. Jury choice was scheduled to proceed Wednesday within the trial scheduled to unfold over the following eight weeks.

In the long run, the case might reveal the internal workings of how Mexican cartels have been in a position to function so brazenly for thus lengthy: by bribing Mexican police and navy proper as much as the highest ranks.

“For many years, Mexico’s political elite, of all events, has sought by any means to have safety ministers, generals, police commanders, inside secretaries and high-ranking officers tried and imprisoned in Mexico. … All that to keep away from them giving data on the ties between the drug cartels and politicians,” stated Mexican safety analyst David Saucedo. “García Luna’s trial in the USA breaks with that sample.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has welcomed the trial, which is predicted to solid gentle on corruption within the administration of Calderón, whom the president accuses of robbing him of the presidency in 2006.

However López Obrador himself fought tooth and nail to keep away from a U.S. trial of former Protection Secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos on related prices in 2020, at one level threatening to kick brokers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration out of Mexico except the final was returned, which he was.

The trial begins simply days after U.S. President Joe Biden met with López Obrador in Mexico Metropolis. The 2 governments pledged continued cooperation in opposition to the drug cartels, particularly in opposition to the scourge of the artificial opioid fentanyl, which contributed to greater than 107,000 drug overdose deaths within the U.S. in 2021. López Obrador scrapped the civilian federal police power that García Luna as soon as led and put the navy in command of a lot of the nation’s safety.

“It’s not the identical to place a civilian PAN official on trial, as it’s to place a protection secretary on trial, when your complete nationwide safety coverage rests on the armed forces,” stated Ana Vanessa Cárdenas, a world safety analyst on the Anahuac College, referring to Calderón’s conservative Nationwide Motion Social gathering.

García Luna has pleaded not responsible to drug trafficking prices and a unbroken prison enterprise. He might face a long time in jail if convicted.

What he’ll face in a Brooklyn courtroom is a parade of presidency witnesses, together with high-level cartel members of a sort not seen in Brooklyn since Sinaloa boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was convicted there in 2019 and sentenced to life in jail. Some accusations in opposition to García Luna surfaced on the Guzmán trial.

“Whereas holding public workplace, (García Luna) used his official positions to help the Sinaloa Cartel … in trade for multimillion-dollar bribes,” U.S. Lawyer Breon Peace wrote in a court docket submitting final week. “At trial, the federal government expects that quite a few witnesses, together with a number of former high-ranking members of the Sinaloa Cartel, will testify about bribes paid to the defendant in trade for cover.”

In trade for the bribes, García supplied the Sinaloa Cartel with “secure passage for its drug shipments, delicate regulation enforcement details about investigations into the cartel, and details about rival drug cartels,” Peace wrote. “These funds allowed the cartel at occasions to obtain warnings upfront of regulation enforcement efforts to apprehend cartel members and to permit cartel members to be launched if arrested.”

Earlier than convicting Guzmán in 2019, jurors in his New York trial heard former cartel member Jesús Zambada testify that he personally made no less than $6 million in hidden funds to García Luna, on behalf of his older brother, cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

The cartel is now believed to be run by Zambada and no less than three of Guzmán’s sons, considered one of whom was arrested earlier this month on an extradition request from the USA.

García Luna isn’t the primary prime Mexican official arrested for involvement with drug traffickers. Gen. Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo was made Mexico’s drug czar by President Ernesto Zedillo in 1996. He was arrested the next 12 months after it was found he was residing in a luxurious condo owned by the chief of the Juarez cartel, Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

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