Crime & Justice

Mexico: Ex-security chief’s drug trial will shed light on role of US agencies

Mexico City, Jan 20 (EFE).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday that the upcoming trial in New York of a Mexican former security chief charged with accepting millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels also will shed light on the role played by US government agencies.

“This has to do with a larger matter, which also will come to light – ties with foreign agencies, the role of the (US Drug Enforcement Administration), the CIA, of the US government,” the president, popularly known as AMLO, said at his daily morning press conference.

Lopez Obrador alleged that Genaro Garcia Luna, who served as public security secretary during then-President Felipe Calderon’s 2006-2012 administration and has been jailed for more than three years since his December 2019 arrest in Dallas, Texas, was rewarded by and entered into agreements with US authorities.

“Their intelligence agencies … need a shake-up, a revision,” AMLO said.

The president made his remarks on the same day jury selection for the trial, which he recalled is scheduled to begin on Monday and last about eight weeks, was set to conclude.

The 54-year-old Garcia Luna, who led the so-called “war on drugs” in Mexico, stands accused of participation in a criminal enterprise, international cocaine distribution conspiracy, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to import cocaine and making false statements to US authorities.

The defendant has pleaded not guilty to all five counts.

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We can’t make judgments a priori if a trial is going to be held. Of course it’s in the United States. The content of the evidence must be assessed,” as does the witness testimony, AMLO said.

“What’s most important is that (people are) aware of these cases, that they’re made known, that they’re not hidden, so they don’t happen again,” he added.

Lopez Obrador also called for a probe into Garcia Luna’s wealth accumulation, “regardless” of whether or not he had links to organized crime.

“We have to see if it’s true that he has that much money,” the president said. “How could a public servant, no matter how much he earned in salary, end up having – as has been reported, this needs to be proven – residences in the United States, yachts?”

At the time of Garcia Luna’s arrest in late 2019, prosecutors accused him of receiving millions of dollars in bribes from infamous drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel while he controlled Mexico’s Federal Police force and was responsible for ensuring public safety in Mexico.

“In exchange for the payment of bribes, the Sinaloa Cartel obtained safe passage for its drug shipments, sensitive law enforcement information about investigations into the Cartel, and information about rival drug cartels, thereby facilitating the importation of multi-ton quantities of cocaine and other drugs into the United States,” federal prosecutors said then in a statement.

During the 2018-2019 trial in New York of Guzman, who was convicted of charges including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise and drug trafficking and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years, one of the witnesses said he had bribed Garcia Luna.

Jesus “El Rey” Zambada, a former Sinaloa cartel operations chief, told the court that he met with the former security official twice at a restaurant and gave him cash.

If found guilty, Garcia Luna’s sentence would range from between 10 years and life in prison. EFE


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