Mexico's former top security official convicted in cartel bribery case

Genaro Garcia Luna
Posted at 8:24 PM, Feb 21, 2023

Mexico's former top security official who was the frontman for the country's violent war against powerful crime groups was convicted on Tuesday in New York of taking millions of dollars in bribes from drug cartels.

García Luna, who was found to have taken bribes from the Sinaloa cartel while serving as Mexico's security minister, was handed a guilty verdict in a Brooklyn courtroom after juror's determined that he was secretly on the payroll for the drug cartel.

He lead the country's Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 until 2005.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said, “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."

After a trial that lasted several weeks, jurors came to a unanimous decision after hearing testimony from around six long-time narco-traffickers who accused García Luna of living a double life while running a government agency in Mexico seen as the country's equivalent to the F.B.I.

The trial will likely be seen as reminder of Mexico's ongoing and dangerous fight against organized crime, and will likely have far-reaching consequences.

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador jumped on the news of the verdict using it for political gain against the opposition party, under which García Luna served for over 10 years.

The verdict could increase cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico to try and quell transnational crime.

DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, said, “Garcia Luna, the former Secretary of Public Security in Mexico, received millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa cartel in exchange for protecting its drug trafficking activities and facilitating the importation of cocaine and other drugs into the United States."

Milgram said, "This case affirms DEA’s dedication to target and bring to justice those that enable the Sinaloa criminal drug cartel to flood the U.S. with deadly drugs that are killing Americans at unprecedented rates."

Traditionally charges have been brought against members of drug trafficking organizations, but this latest guilty verdict has been a hit on the systemic corruption in Mexico's government.

The New York Times reported that one subject rarely came up in trial.

How much did American officials know of García Luna’s ties to the cartels at the time he was serving in an office that had him meeting with top U.S. political figures like former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Attorney General Eric Holder?

Guillermo Valdés, the former director of Mexico's "CISEN," which is the country's equivalent to the C.I.A., told the Times, “I think there is a question the U.S. government needs to answer: How did Genaro switch from being a fundamental actor to the U.S. in the fight against criminal organizations, to someone standing in a courtroom?”