The 18-member jury hears this Monday the arguments for and against Genaro García Luna, Mexico's former Secretary of Security, in the federal trial against him in New York on charges that he allegedly accepted millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for help the powerful Sinaloa cartel to traffic drugs and avoid the capture of its members.
García Luna's past will be in question, since he was a Mexican anti-drug czar of the Mexican government of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2001-2012), until his arrest in the US in 2019 for links to drug traffickers, in a case with a million pages of documents and graphic material, as well as recordings of wiretapped communications.
In the Brooklyn courthouse, a parade of government witnesses and drug lords also awaits him, never seen there since the head of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquín
Guzmán, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2019. Some of the accusations against García Luna arose during that process.
The judge in the case is Brian Cogan, the same one who tried
Guzmán, while the jury is made up of 18 members, whose identities are kept anonymous for security reasons and who will be escorted by federal bailiffs on their way to and from return to court.
In this Jan. 3, 2020 file illustration, Garcia Luna (center) is seen with his defense attorney and an interpreter at a federal court hearing in Brooklyn, New York.
García Luna is the highest-ranking former Mexican official brought to the dock in the United States and faces five charges against him: three for cocaine trafficking, one for organized crime and another for false statements.
Accused of receiving millionaire bribes
The trial will determine whether García Luna is guilty of participating in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy, including accepting multimillion-dollar bribes from the Sinaloa cartel between 2001 and 2012 while holding public office – first director of the Federal Investigation Agency and later the Secretary of Security public.
The prosecution alleges that he accepted tens of
millions of dollars, often stuffed in briefcases
The evidence against him includes receipts, although it is not clear if they were for official work, private sector consultancies, cartel payments or other bribes.
“In exchange for these bribes, the defendant provided the Sinaloa cartel with, among other things, safe passage for their drug shipments, confidential information from authorities on cartel investigations, and information on rival cartels,” the newspaper wrote in early January. United States Attorney Breon Peace in a court document.
“These payments allowed the cartel to sometimes receive advance notice of security force operations to detain members and allowed them to be released if they were detained,” he explained.
Investigators claim that he continued to live off his ill-gotten gains even after moving to Florida in the US and until he was arrested in 2019, although
his defense alleges that he was a legitimate businessman
And García Luna has pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking and criminal enterprise charges.
At least six known drug traffickers will be called to testify in the trial against Genaro García Luna
Jan 20, 202302:39
During the trial, which is expected to last about eight months, the testimony of drug lords is expected, some with names that are familiar since they were present in the process against
Guzmán, such as Jesús
Zambada García (former operator of the Sinaloa cartel) and Édgar
Veytia, former prosecutor of the Mexican state of Nayarit.
The judge determined last week that some elements would be excluded from the process, such as the praise of the accused by senior US officials that the defense intended to use, but also samples of the wealth accumulated by the former secretary that the prosecution presented.
Splashed into Mexican politics
The case could reveal how the cartels have been able to operate openly for so long, if there were bribes to the police and the military, thus being able to splash Mexican political figures.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has welcomed a trial that is expected to shed light on corruption in the Calderón government, whom the president accuses of having stolen the presidency from him in 2006. But in addition, AMLO has called for that the relationship that García Luna had with the US Government be revealed.
Genaro García Luna is the highest-ranking Mexican official to have been tried in the US.
Jan 19, 202300:26
Although López Obrador himself fought to prevent former Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos from being tried in the United States on similar charges in 2020, going so far as to threaten to expel DEA agents from the country unless the general was returned to Mexico, as it ended up happening.