Mexico official arrested, accused of taking bribes from ‘El Chapo’

Naomi Bradley



As Mexico’s top cop who assisted start the country’s war against drug cartels additional than a 10 years ago, Genaro García Luna won the rely on of U.S. counter-narcotics officers and was celebrated for rooting out graft among the law enforcement ranks.

“In the struggle versus corruption, we will not give in to pressures,” he told journalists in 2007 soon after asserting that he was firing hundreds of federal law enforcement commanders.

U.S. officials now say that García Luna himself was corrupt.

He was arrested in Dallas on Monday and billed with using hundreds of thousands of bucks in bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel that was the moment headed by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

García Luna, who led Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 to 2005 and served as secretary of general public security from 2006 to 2012, is one particular of the best-position Mexican officials indicted on drug trafficking rates in a U.S. courtroom.

Officers assert that on at minimum two situations, he recognized briefcases from cartel couriers stuffed with at the very least $3 million in cash.

In exchange, they allege, García Luna presented the Sinaloa cartel with safe and sound passage of its drugs as perfectly as sensitive facts about regulation enforcement investigations into the group and information and facts about rival gangs.

García Luna was billed with a few counts of conspiracy to traffic cocaine and one depend of producing false statements, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday. It’s the most current in a string of U.S. scenarios targeting the Mexican narcotics field, together with this year’s conviction of Guzman on trafficking and murder prices.

U.S. Atty. Richard Donoghue explained in a assertion that the García Luna circumstance “demonstrates our solve to convey to justice those who assist cartels inflict devastating hurt on the United States and Mexico no matter of the positions they held although committing their crimes.”

According to the indictment, the bribery occurred sometime immediately after 2001, the year García Luna grew to become the head of the Federal Investigation Agency under newly elected President Vicente Fox.

The election of Fox, a previous Coca-Cola govt who ran with the Nationwide Motion Get together, finished additional than seven a long time of rule by the Institutional Innovative Get together and was widely hailed as an unprecedented democratic opening and an option to stamp out corruption.

Beneath the earlier political procedure, cartels often paid Mexican officers in get to very easily targeted visitors medication north to the United States. Fox and his young protege García Luna offered them selves as reformers intent on professionalizing Mexico’s establishments.

When Felipe Calderón took office environment as president in 2006, also below the banner of the Countrywide Motion Celebration, García Luna became the community confront of the president’s controversial war on drug cartels.

For the duration of that time, García Luna worked closely with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials and was tasked with building a federal law enforcement drive.

A flattering 2008 profile in the New York Situations Magazine described García Luna as “something of a wunderkind,” a male with a “square jaw, squat create and crew cut” who was savvy with technological know-how and fully commited to cleaning up Mexico’s notoriously corrupt law enforcement.

“We are obligated to confront criminal offense,” García Luna stated when asked whether or not Mexico should look at producing specials with cartels to cut down criminal offense. “That is our position, that is our obligation, and we will not consider a pact.”

But as time went on, García Luna commenced to facial area scrutiny for his personal actions.

There was an embarrassing episode in which he was observed to have staged a police raid of kidnapping victims for a tv crew. And then there was the issue of his many luxury homes, which appeared out of reach for anyone with a civil servant’s salary.

U.S. officers say documents clearly show that by the time García Luna moved to the United States in 2012, he experienced amassed a fortune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Outstanding Mexican journalist Anabel Hernández took notice of his particular prosperity and revealed a e-book in 2010 alleging that García Luna recognized bribes in trade for protecting the Sinaloa cartel. She later on submitted complaints with Mexico’s human legal rights fee accusing García Luna of attempting to seek the services of federal police officers to kill her.

The bribery promises versus García Luna reemerged through Guzman’s drug trafficking and murder demo past calendar year.

At the demo, former cartel member Jesus Zambada García testified that he two times fulfilled García Luna in a restaurant and gave him a briefcase stuffed with money.

Zambada García claimed the initially payoff occurred in 2005, when García Luna was the head of the Federal Investigation Company, and the next a person a yr later, immediately after García Luna experienced been promoted to secretary of public protection.

García Luna has denied these statements in the past.

He did not enter a plea to the indictment at his initial visual appeal in a Dallas courtroom this 7 days, in accordance to John Marzulli, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s workplace. Phone calls to García Luna’s legal professional were not returned.

García Luna obtained legal residency in the U.S. various many years in the past, according to a detention memo submitted by the U.S. attorney’s office environment.

In 2018, he utilized to grow to be a naturalized U.S. citizen. In the detention memo, prosecutors alleged that on his citizenship application García Luna “made materially wrong statements denying his earlier felony carry out.”

If he is convicted of accepting bribes, it would be a big stain on the legacies of the two presidents whom he served.

Analysts say it would in particular harm Calderón, who made combating drug traffickers his major coverage precedence and who has commonly criticized the much less militarized method of recent President Andres Manuel López Obrador.

“It is a large blow for Calderón,” stated Carlos Bravo Regidor, a political analyst. “It strips absent any authority he experienced remaining to discuss about stability matters.”

Bravo also described the arrest as a boon to López Obrador, who has commonly explained his predecessors as corrupt.

“This is the U.S. going following Calderón’s community security secretary,” Bravo explained. “It’s rather a gift.”

It is not the 1st time a best Mexican official has been introduced down by drug trafficking allegations.

In 1997, Mexican anti-drug czar José de Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo was arrested for doing work with the Juárez cartel. Like García Luna, he had at the time been celebrated as Mexico’s very best hope in battling criminal offense.

Cecilia Sanchez of The Times’ Mexico Town bureau contributed to this report.





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