Mexico’s Top Cop Convicted of Accepting Millions from Sinaloa Cartel

Опубликовано: 24 Февраль 2023

Genaro Garcia Luna 2Genaro García Luna, once Mexico’s top cop, was convicted Tuesday of accepting millions in bribes from the very cartels he was tasked with dismantling. (Photo: Embajada de Estados Unidos en México, Wikimedia, License)

A U.S. federal court found Mexico’s former secretary of public security and the country’s top cop in its fight against organized crime guilty of accepting millions in bribes from the very cartels he was tasked with dismantling.

The month-long trial culminated on Tuesday in a guilty verdict for Genaro García Luna on all five counts, which included his participation with a transnational criminal enterprise and conspiracy to smuggle tonnes of cocaine into the United States.

Between 2002 and 2007 alone, for instance, authorities tied him to no less than six cartel drug shipments that totalled roughly 50,000 kilos, or just shy of 50 tonnes.

The bribes he accepted for facilitating such shipments garnered him millions of dollars and essentially allowed groups such as the renowned Sinaloa Cartel to operate with impunity, authorities said.

As the secretary of public security between 2006 and 2012, García Luna brought progressive reforms to Mexico’s law enforcement agencies, which had long been plagued by corruption, and even took a lead role in founding the country’s Federal Police, known colloquially as ‘Los Federales’.

Now, however, the blood that has stained the streets of Mexico and the U.S. in the war against organized crime will also stain his hands and forever mark his legacy.

His collaboration with the Sinaloa Cartel included facilitating safe passage for its drug shipments across the border, providing its leaders with inside information into the cases his subordinates were building, and even helping them attack rival cartels to get an upper hand in the drug trade.

The evidence presented during his trial included testimony from former high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel members “with direct knowledge of the defendant’s corrupt activities,” the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

One member testified that García Luna accepted bribes to have his own officers act as bodyguards and escorts for the cartel; he even had his men handle cocaine shipments at Mexico City’s airport on the cartel’s behalf.

In other cases, he provided cartel members with police uniforms and badges to mask their presence as they carried out their activities in broad daylight.

As gratitude, the cartel testified that they paid him handsomely; millions of dollars at a time. Suitcases, briefcases, and duffel bags filled with cash would await his pickup in safe houses, car washes, and even in a restaurant across the street from the U.S. Embassy.

“Garcia Luna, who once stood at the pinnacle of law enforcement in Mexico, will now live the rest of his days having been revealed as a traitor to his country and to the honest members of law enforcement who risked their lives to dismantle drug cartels,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace.

His work for the other side also compromised the safety of the police officers tasked with investigating and combating cartel activity, said Homeland Security Investigations New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo.

Likewise, Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, spokesman for Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, tweeted “García Luna is convicted of drug trafficking, organized crime and false statements in the U.S….The crimes against our people will never be forgotten.”

Ramírez Cuevas’ tweet was also an inference to the alleged corruption behind former Mexican president Felipe Calderón’s administration, as he specifically referred to García Luna as Calderón’s “former squire”.

Garcia Luna’s co-defendants, Luis Cardenas Palomino and Ramon Pequeno Garcia, who are also former high-ranking Mexican police officers, remain at large, the DOJ said.

Sentencing is set for June later this year. Garcia Luna faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years and the possibility of life in prison.