March 27, 2023

A former Mexican presidential cupboard member has been convicted in the US of taking monumental bribes to guard the violent drug cartels he was tasked with combating.

Underneath tight safety, an nameless New York federal court docket jury deliberated for 3 days earlier than reaching a verdict within the drug-trafficking case in opposition to Mexico’s former Safety of Public Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna.

He’s the highest-ranking present or former Mexican official ever to be tried within the US.

Garcia Luna, who denied the allegations, headed Mexico’s federal police after which was its prime public security official from 2006 to 2012. His legal professionals mentioned the costs have been primarily based on lies from criminals who wished to punish his drug-fighting efforts and to get sentencing breaks. for themselves by serving to prosecutors.

Garcia Luna confirmed no obvious response upon listening to the decision.

The case had political ramifications on each side of the border. Testimony aired a secondhand declare that former Mexican President Felipe Calderon sought to protect the infamous Sinaloa cocaine cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in opposition to a significant rival. Calderon, in the meantime, has referred to as the allegation “absurd” and “an absolute lie”.

Jurors additionally discovered that Garcia Luna met with high-level US politicians and different officers who thought of him a key cartel-fighting companion as Washington launched into a $1.6bn push to beef up Mexican legislation enforcement and stem the move of medicine.

A court drawing shows Garcia Luna's defense team
A courtroom sketch in a New York federal court docket on February 17 exhibits Genaro Garcia Luna’s protection crew researching info requested by the jury [Elizabeth Williams/AP Photo]

The People weren’t accused of wrongdoing, and though suspicions lengthy swirled round Garcia Luna, the trial didn’t delve into the extent of US officers’ data about them earlier than his 2019 arrest.

Present Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has, nonetheless, pointedly urged Washington ought to examine its personal legislation enforcement and intelligence officers who labored with Garcia Luna throughout Calderon’s administration.

A roster of ex-smugglers and former Mexican officers testified that Garcia Luna took tens of millions of {dollars} in cartel money, met with main traffickers and stored legislation enforcement at bay.

It was “the very best funding they’d”, mentioned Sergio “El Grande” Villarreal Barragan, a former federal police officer who labored for cartels on the aspect and later as his essential job. “We had completely no issues with our actions.”

He and different witnesses mentioned that, on Garcia Luna’s watch, police tipped traffickers about upcoming raids, ensured cocaine might move freely via the nation, colluded with cartels to raid rivals and did different favors.

One ex-smuggler mentioned Garcia Luna shared a doc that mirrored info from US legislation enforcement about an enormous cocaine cargo seized in Mexico round 2007.

Garcia Luna, 54, didn’t testify on the trial, although his spouse took the stand in an obvious effort to painting their property in Mexico as legitimately acquired and upper-middle-class however not lavish. The couple moved to Miami in 2012 when the Mexican administration modified, and Garcia Luna grew to become a guide on safety points.

His legal professionals emphasised that prosecutors’ case relied on testimony from admitted lawbreakers, with out recordings, messages or a documented cash path to corroborate their accusations.

“Nothing backs up what these killers, torturers, fraudsters and epic narcotics traffickers claimed about Genaro Garcia Luna,” protection lawyer Cesar de Castro mentioned in a closing argument.

Garcia Luna was convicted on costs that embody participating in a seamless prison enterprise, which carries a possible sentencing vary of 20 years to life in jail. He additionally was convicted of different costs, together with cocaine distribution and cocaine conspiracy. His sentencing is about for June 27.

The trial was peppered with glimpses of such narco-extravagances as a personal zoo with a lion, a hippo, white tigers and extra. Jurors heard about tons of cocaine transferring via Latin America in transport containers, go-fast boats, non-public jets, planes, trains and even submarines.

And there have been horrible reminders of the extraordinary violence these medicine fueled.

Witnesses described cartel killings and kidnappings, allegedly together with an abduction of Garcia Luna himself. There was testimony about law enforcement officials being slaughtered and drug-world rivals being dismembered, skinned and dangled from bridges as cartel factions fought one another whereas shopping for police safety.

Witnesses described delivering Garcia Luna to conferences with cartel leaders in settings starting from a rustic home to a automotive wash. In addition they recounted journeys to gather containers and luggage filled with drug cash at secure homes, a warehouse filled with cocaine and a elaborate Mexico Metropolis restaurant.

One ex-smuggler, Oscar “El Lobo” Nava Valencia, mentioned he personally heard Garcia Luna and a then-top police official say they might “stand with us” throughout a gathering with Guzman’s associates amid a cartel civil warfare. That sit-down alone price the drug gang $3m, Nava Valencia mentioned.

Garcia Luna was arrested after testimony about his alleged corruption emerged at Guzman’s high-profile trial about 4 years in the past in the identical New York courtroom.

The previous politician additionally faces numerous Mexican arrest warrants and costs regarding authorities know-how contracts, jail contracting and the bungled US “Quick and Livid” investigation, which appeared into suspicions that weapons have been illegally making their approach from the US to Mexican drug cartels.

The Mexican authorities has additionally filed a civil go well with in opposition to Garcia Luna and his alleged associates and companies in Florida, in search of to recuperate $700m Mexico claims he garnered via corruption.

Lopez Obrador has given updates on the New York trial at his each day press conferences, calling Garcia Luna corrupt however noting it was as much as the jury to determine whether or not he was responsible.

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