US federal court: Former minister convicted of drug trafficking

Status: 02/22/2023 08:09 a.m

Former Mexican security minister García Luna has been found guilty of cocaine trafficking in the United States. A jury also found it proven that he accepted millions in bribes from ex-drug boss “El Chapo”.

A US federal court in New York has found former Mexican security minister Genaro García Luna guilty of cocaine trafficking and corruption. The 12 jurors unanimously found the 54-year-old guilty of collaborating with the notorious Sinaloa cartel.

They followed the view of the public prosecutor’s office, according to which García Luna helped the cartel smuggle cocaine into the USA for years and collected millions of dollars for it. To prove the allegations, the public prosecutor presented 26 witnesses. They included nine Mexicans extradited to the US for drug trafficking who are working with US justice to have their sentences reduced.

García Luna denies all allegations

García Luna was unperturbed by the guilty verdict, which was attended by his wife and two children. He had pleaded not guilty to all five counts. His lawyer Cesar de Castro announced that García Luna “will continue to fight to clear his name”. There is “no evidence” for the allegations made against his client.

The sentence is to be announced on June 27th. García Luna faces a life sentence.

The ex-minister is the highest-ranking former Mexican government official to stand trial in the United States on drug charges. He was a member of the government under President Felipe Calderón from 2006 to 2012 – at a time when Mexico was officially leading a hard line against drug gangs. From 2001 to 2005, the trained mechanical engineer headed the now defunct Federal Police Authority AFI, which was tasked with fighting corruption and organized crime.

Corrupt cops and millions in bribes

He helped the Sinaloa cartel, long run by drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, smuggle at least 53 tons of cocaine into the United States from 2001, according to New York federal prosecutors. When García Luna was in charge, police officers informed criminals about upcoming raids and ensured that cocaine was able to pass through the country unhindered. García Luna had members of rival cartels arrested and helped other corrupt officials to influential posts. He is said to have received a bribe of several million dollars for this.

After Calderón’s government was replaced in 2012, García Luna moved to Miami with his wife, where he built a second career as a security consultant. He was arrested after allegations of corruption first surfaced against him in the trial of “El Chapo” around four years ago. García Luna was arrested in Texas in 2019. He has been in prison ever since.

Ex-drug lord “El Chapo” Guzmán himself was sentenced to life imprisonment in New York in 2019. He is serving his sentence in a maximum security prison in the US state of Colorado.

Helpers of drug lord “El Chapo”: Former Mexican minister sentenced in New York

Antje Passenheim, ARD New York, 2/22/2023 7:53 a.m

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