Mexican Ex-Security Leader Convicted of Taking Bribes from Drug Cartel
“The once-highest ranking law enforcement official in Mexico is now a convicted felon,” the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York announced in a press release on Tuesday.
Genaro García Luna, 54, was convicted on 21 February 2023 by a U.S. federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, of five counts of a superseding indictment charging him with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. This includes six drug-related violations, international cocaine distribution conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to import cocaine, and making false statements.
Prior to his arrest and pleading not guilty to the charges, García Luna served as the head of Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 to 2005 and secretary of public security in Mexico from 2006 to 2012, which also gave him control of the country’s Federal Police Force. García Luna served under former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who oversaw a crackdown on drug cartels starting in 2006, the BBC reported.
The ex-minister was accused of taking millions of dollars, in $100 bills in bundles of $100,000 at times, from the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico in exchange for protection from arrest and safe passage for cocaine shipments.
The case was notable for a lack of physical evidence; García Luna instead was largely convicted on testimony from drug traffickers, one of whom testified that he had personally delivered millions of dollars in payments to the minister, the BBC noted. The ex-minister was suspected of sharing information with the Sinaloa cartel about its rivals and warning the group about law enforcement operations.
Mexico's ex-security minister Genaro García Luna convicted of drug trafficking https://t.co/G2k5M0wvnt— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 21, 2023
“The evidence included testimony from former high-ranking members of the Sinaloa Cartel with direct knowledge of the defendant’s corrupt activities,” the DOJ press release noted. “For example, in exchange for bribes, the defendant’s Federal Police Force acted as bodyguards and escorts for the Cartel, allowing Cartel members to wear police uniforms and badges, and helped unload shipments of cocaine from planes at Mexico City’s airport, then delivered the cocaine to the Cartel.”
According to Ivan J. Arvelo, Homeland Security Investigations, New York, special agent in charge, “Criminal organizations cannot function at the level of the Sinaloa drug cartel without the support of corrupt politicians and officials such as Genaro García Luna who aid and abet them. García Luna, a trusted public servant, used his official position to assist this violent drug cartel in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes.
“Not only did García Luna betray his position, his people and his country, his actions facilitated the importation of tons of illicit drugs into the United States,” Arvelo said in the press release. “Corrupt officials like García Luna create a dangerous work environment for U.S. law enforcement who often share sensitive information with the Mexican government to stem the flow of dangerous narcotics into the United States.”
García Luna moved to the United States after leaving office, and he was arrested in Texas in 2019. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison, but that could extend to a life sentence, according to Reuters. His sentencing is set for 27 June.