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The trial against Genaro García Luna, former Secretary of Public Security of Mexico, in the US: who is he, what are they accusing him of and who are the witnesses

2023-01-17T20:40:25.632Z


With the selection of the jury, this Tuesday began the trial against Genaro García Luna in a federal court in New York.


Genaro García Luna in May 2012, when he was Mexico's Secretary of Public Security.

(ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN Spanish) ––

 With the selection of the jury, this Tuesday the trial against Genaro García Luna began in a federal court in New York.

García Luna was Mexico's Secretary of Public Security between 2006 and 2012, during the presidency of Felipe Calderón, and is the highest-ranking former Mexican official to face US justice on drug trafficking and corruption charges.

The charges

García Luna, who for a decade served as head of Mexico's now dissolved Federal Investigation Agency, equivalent to the FBI, was arrested on December 9, 2019 in Dallas and charged with drug trafficking and accepting million-dollar bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel, led at that time by Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

The prosecution argues that, in exchange for money, García Luna allowed the Sinaloa Cartel to operate with impunity in Mexico and helped traffickers transport drugs safely and without the intervention of law enforcement to the United States, and that it even carried out attacks against rival cartels.

  • Former Mexican Secretary of Public Security Genaro García Luna is accused of participating in an ongoing criminal enterprise

The former official faces several counts of participation in an ongoing criminal enterprise and others of conspiring to obtain, import and distribute thousands of kilograms of cocaine in the US, in addition to allegedly making false statements to US immigration officials.

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García Luna has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

If convicted, he would face a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison up to life in prison.

  • US prosecutors accuse former Mexican Secretary of Public Security Genaro García Luna of threatening and bribing journalists who were investigating him

The process

The trial will take place in the Eastern District Court of New York and will be presided over by federal judge Brian Cogan, the same court and judge who oversaw the case against Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

During Guzmán's trial, García Luna's name was mentioned when some testified that they gave suitcases full of money to the former head of the Mexican Police.

Prosecutors estimate that the trial could last about eight weeks, during which various pieces of evidence and dozens of witnesses will be presented, including former members of the Sinaloa Cartel and other drug traffickers.

It is not yet clear if García Luna will speak in his own defense, but he could still avoid a lengthy trial if he decides to cut a plea deal with prosecutors in exchange for a guilty plea.

The judge

The jury will be made up of 12 US citizens who will be chosen from among 400 candidates.

Each had to answer basic questions about their identity, their ethnicity, their profession and any information that could influence the verdict.

For security reasons, the jury in this case will remain anonymous and partially isolated.

In addition, the members will be escorted each day by the authorities to and from the court.

Judge Cogan ordered these conditions at the request of the prosecution.

Cogan said the persistent violence and the broad reach of the cartel, to which García Luna has been linked by prosecutors, make it reasonably likely that jurors will fear for their safety if they are not guaranteed anonymity.

Once the jury is formed, the prosecutors and García Luna's lawyer, César de Castro, will present their initial arguments before moving on to the testimonies of the witnesses.

At the end of that process, the jury will enter into deliberations and will have to reach a unanimous verdict on each charge that García Luna faces.

During the trial of Chapo Guzmán, the jury was also anonymous and partially isolated.

Guzmán was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2019, and is serving his sentence at the maximum-security federal prison in Colorado.

García Luna with then President Felipe Calderón.

The witnesses

According to prosecutors, numerous witnesses, including several drug traffickers and former members of the Sinaloa Cartel, and Mexican government officials will give statements about the bribes paid to García Luna in exchange for his protection.

Although, for security reasons, the identity of those who will give testimonies will not be revealed to the public in advance, the prosecution is expected to present several cooperating witnesses, some of them possibly the same ones who testified in the case against El Chapo, such as Jesús “El King” Zambada.

Zambada, a former operator of the Sinaloa Cartel, testified during the trial against Guzmán that on two occasions he delivered suitcases with millions of dollars to García Luna.

Among other possible witnesses that have been named in press reports are Édgar Valdez Villarreal, alias “La Barbie”, Iván Reyes Arzate, known as “La Reina”, and even Chapo's wife, Emma Coronel.

Coronel is currently serving a three-year sentence in a United States prison for her involvement in her husband's drug trafficking activities.

She is scheduled to be released in September.

César de Castro, García Luna's lawyer, has said that cartel witnesses the government will present have made false accusations as a form of revenge.

implications

As happened during the trial against Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, potentially explosive statements are expected that could implicate other Mexican officials.

Furthermore, it is hoped that it will shed more light on the internal functions of drug cartels, the violence they inflict, and the level of corruption that often sustains them.

Genaro Garcia Luna

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2023-01-17

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