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WORLD NEWS | U.S. charges ex-Mexico security chief on drug trial

WORLD NEWS | U.S. charges ex-Mexico security chief on drug trial

MEXICO CITY, Jan. 17 (AP) – The man who once served as Mexico’s top security official and oversaw the fight against drug cartels went on trial Tuesday on charges he accepted millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for helping the powerful Sinaloa cartel Deliver drugs and their members to avoid capture.

Genaro García Luna, best known as the muttering, tough-looking former security minister under former President Felipe Calderon, was It spearheaded a bloody war against cartels between 2006 and 2012.

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U.S. prosecutors allege he brazenly accepted tens of millions of dollars, often in briefcases. Evidence against him included pay slips, but it was not clear whether they were from official jobs, private-sector consulting, cartel payments or other bribes.

They said he continued to live off his ill-gotten gains even after he moved to the United States, where he was arrested in 2019, even though the defense said he was a legitimate businessman. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

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In the end, this case may shed light on the inner workings of how Mexican cartels have been able to operate so openly for so long: by bribing the Mexican police and military right up to the top.

“For decades, Mexico’s political elite of all parties have sought to have security ministers, generals, police commanders, interior ministers and high-ranking officials tried and imprisoned in Mexico…all to keep them from giving information about ties in the drug cartels and politicians,” said Mexican security analyst David Saucedo. “García Luna’s trial in the US breaks that pattern.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador welcomed the trial that is expected to reveal corruption in Calderon’s government, which the president accused of stripping him of the presidency in 2006.

But Lopez Obrador himself went to great lengths to avoid the trial of former U.S. Secretary of Defense General Salvador Cienfuegos on similar charges in 2020, at one point threatening to kick DEA agents out of Mexico unless the The general was sent back, which he did.

The trial began just days after U.S. President Joe Biden met with Lopez Obrador in Mexico City. The two governments pledged to continue working together to fight drug cartels, especially the scourge of the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which will kill more than 107,000 people in the United States from overdose in 2021.

López Obrador eliminated the civilian federal police force that García Luna once led and put the military in charge of much of the country’s security.

Ana Vanessa Cardenas, an international security analyst at Anahuac, said: “When the entire national security policy rests with the armed forces, there is no difference between trying a civilian PAN official and trying a defense secretary. Same.” University, referring to Calderon’s conservative National Action Party.

Garcia Luna pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges and one count of continuing criminal activity. If convicted, he could face decades in prison.

He will face a slew of government witnesses in a Brooklyn courtroom, including high-ranking cartel members, a feat not seen since Sinaloa boss Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman was convicted there in 2019 and sentenced to life in prison. Nothing like this has ever been seen in Brooklyn. Several allegations against García Luna surfaced during the Guzman trial.

“While in public office, (Garcia Luna) used her public office to assist the notorious Mexican drug cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel, in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes. In the trial, the government expects to include several former senior members of the Sinaloa Cartel Numerous witnesses, including , will testify about bribery of defendants in exchange for protection,” U.S. Attorney Brian Pease wrote in a court filing last week.

“In exchange for these bribes, defendants provided the Sinaloa cartel with safe passage for drug shipments, sensitive law enforcement information about the investigating cartel, and information about a rival drug trafficking cartel,” Pease wrote. “These payments allow cartels to sometimes receive warnings before law enforcement actions arrest cartel members, and allow cartel members to be released if they are apprehended.”

Jurors in the New York trial heard former cartel member Jesus Zambada testify on behalf of his older brother, cartel boss Ismail “Ermeo” Zambada, before Guzman’s conviction in 2019. Da made hidden payments to García Luna of at least $6 million.

The cartel is now believed to be run by Zambada and at least three of Guzman’s sons, one of whom was arrested earlier this month following a U.S. extradition request.

Garcia Luna is not the first senior Mexican official to be arrested for his involvement with drug dealers. In 1996, Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo named General Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo the drug czar of Mexico. He was arrested the following year after he was found living in a luxury apartment owned by Juarez cartel leader Amado Carrillo Fuentes. (Associated Press)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)

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