Mexican leader: Convicted ex-security chief should tell all he knows
Mexico City, Feb 22 (EFE).- The day after his country’s former top law enforcement official was found guilty by a court in the United States of taking bribes from drug cartels, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday that Genaro Garcia Luna should testify about his relations with senior figures in both government.
AMLO, as he is known, mentioned two of his predecessors as president, Vicente Fox (2000-2006) and Felipe Calderon (2006-2012), in whose administrations Garcia Luna served.
“What explanation will you give the people of Mexico about why you appointed Garcia Luna, and if you knew or you didn’t know? And that’s what we want information about, that is the explanation we are awaiting,” the incumbent president said.
Garcia Luna was convicted Tuesday by a federal jury in New York and his sentencing is set for June.
Under Fox, Garcia headed the now-defunct AFI, Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI, while Calderon made him security secretary.
“There is still the possibility that Garcia Luna testifies as a witness and as president of Mexico, I would say, for the good of the country, that I hope he does,” AMLO said. “That would be very good, independently of whether it reduces his years in prison.”
He stressed the importance of learning what, if anything, Calderon knew about Garcia Luna’s activities as a member of his Cabinet.
“In other words, why did Calderon have him six years? Because not all the secretaries were there for the entire term. This was from beginning to end,” AMLO told reporters during his daily morning press conference.
The security secretary was seen as Calderon’s right-hand man and as the leader of the right-wing president’s “war on drugs,” which saw more than 100,000 deaths.
The leftist president also called it “very important” for both Mexico and the US to know the nature of Garcia Luna’s dealings with US officials.
During the trial, defense counsel showed pictures of Garcia Luna with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, among others, and sought to present evidence that the defendant received “commendations and awards” from the US government.
“Because he was even given an award by the authorities of the United States and it’s impossible that they didn’t know, because ‘Fast and Furious’ was a concerted action,” AMLO said Wednesday.
He was referring to a 2009-2010 operation by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that allowed some 2,000 weapons to be smuggled into Mexico by straw purchasers allegedly working for drug cartels, a tactic known as “gun-walking.”
The idea behind Fast and Furious was to track the weapons purchased by illicit buyers to powerful drug traffickers in Mexico, but once it got underway ATF agents realized they had no dependable way of keeping track of the guns, which eventually began appearing at crime scenes on both sides of the border.
Around 1,400 of the 2,000 weapons sold through the program went missing.
While anxious for answers from Garcia Luna, AMLO said Wednesday that he opposed the idea, proposed by lawmakers from his party, of putting Calderon on trial.
“I don’t agree with that. What I believe is that we need to have all the elements and think of the good of the country,” the president said.
Garcia Luna’s trial, he said, aided the fight against corruption in Mexico, but much more needs to be done.
“This is just a beginning, it’s a good contribution, but the contribution could have been greater,” AMLO said. EFE csr/dr