US drug trial opens for Mexico ex-security head

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

Genaro García Luna was greatest generally known as the mumbling, tough-looking former safety secretary below ex-President Felipe Calderón who spearheaded the bloody warfare on cartels between 2006 and 2012.

United States prosecutors allege he was so brazen he accepted tens of thousands and thousands of {dollars}, usually stuffed in briefcases. The proof towards him consists of pay stubs, although whether or not they have been from official jobs, personal sector consultancy, cartel funds or different bribes is unclear.

They are saying he continued to reside off his ill-gotten proceeds even after he moved to america, the place he was arrested in 2019, although the protection says he was a professional businessman. Jury choice was scheduled to start Tuesday.

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 army proper as much as the highest ranks.

“For decades, Mexico’s political elite, of all parties, has sought by any means to have security ministers, generals, police commanders, interior secretaries and high-ranking officials tried and imprisoned in Mexico … all that to avoid them giving information on the ties between the drug cartels and politicians,” stated Mexican safety analyst David Saucedo. “Garcia Luna’s trial in the United States breaks with that pattern.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has welcomed the trial anticipated to solid mild on corruption within the administration of Calderón, who the president accuses of getting robbed 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 comparable prices in 2020, at one level threatening to kick DEA brokers 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 towards the drug cartels, particularly towards 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 pressure that García Luna as soon as led and put the army in control of a lot of the nation’s safety.

“It’s not the same to put a civilian PAN official on trial, as it is to put a defense secretary on trial, when your whole national security policy rests on the armed forces,” stated Ana Vanessa Cárdenas, a global safety analyst on the Anahuac College, referring to Calderón’s conservative Nationwide Motion Get together.

García Luna has pleaded not responsible to drug trafficking prices and a seamless felony enterprise. He might face many years 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 towards García Luna surfaced on the Guzmán trial.

“While holding public office, (García Luna) used his official positions to assist the Sinaloa Cartel, a notorious Mexican drug cartel, in exchange for multimillion-dollar bribes. At trial, the government expects that numerous witnesses, including several former high-ranking members of the Sinaloa Cartel, will testify about bribes paid to the defendant in exchange for protection,” U.S. Legal professional Breon Peace wrote in a courtroom submitting final week.

“In exchange for these bribes, the defendant provided the Sinaloa Cartel with, among other things, safe passage for its drug shipments, sensitive law enforcement information about investigations into the cartel, and information about rival drug cartels,” Peace wrote. “These payments allowed the cartel at times to receive warnings in advance of law enforcement efforts to apprehend cartel members and to allow cartel members to be released 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, one among whom was arrested earlier this month on an extradition request from america.

García Luna isn’t the primary high 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 dwelling in a luxurious residence owned by the chief of the Juarez cartel, Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

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