Once the top police officer in Mexico, now a jury in Brooklyn will decide whether he was the pet dog of El Chapo’s drug empire.
Jury selection is set to begin this week as part of the federal trial of Genaro Garcia Luna, the former Mexican secretary of public security who is accused of stealing briefcases of cash from the Sinaloa cartel when it was run by notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo.” Guzman.
García Luna, 54, ran Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 to 2006, and served as the country’s Minister of Public Security from 2006 to 2012, giving him control of the local federal police.
Federal prosecutors say he received tens of millions in cash from the cartel while in office. In return, the El Chapo operation received safe passage for its multi-ton drug shipments to the US, information about cartel investigations, information about rival cartels, and advance warning of arrests, prosecutors said.
At El Chapo’s 2018 trial, cartel defector Jesús Zambada Garcia testified to personally delivering Garcia’s briefcases to Luna at a Mexican restaurant on two separate occasions. One was $3 million, the other $3 million to $5 million in exchange for Garcia Luna to protect his brother from arrest and help select a cartel-friendly cop in Culiacan.
Federal prosecutors said in court documents that they plan to call several witnesses, including former high-ranking cartel members, to testify about the bribes paid to Garcia Luna and present financial statements to support those testimony.
They also plan to present evidence that Garcia Luna “subjected the journalist to a years-long campaign of harassment and threats as a result of an investigative journalism” and that he paid bribes to a news organization to block negative stories about him. Prosecutors also plan to show Garcia Luna talking to someone who turned out to be a government agent about the prospect of harming witnesses.
Garcia Luna continued to prosper after leaving public office in 2012 and moving to Miami, according to federal prosecutors. He used Florida shell companies to pay $3 million in cash for a 5,099-square-foot Golden Beach home, purchase a yacht and pay for his children’s private school education, court documents say.
In a Jan. 9 letter, Garcia Luna’s lawyers asked trial judge Brian Cogan to prevent jurors from hearing about his wealth after 2012, saying the government could not link the money to any alleged bribes. Rather, they argue, he got the money honestly, through security consulting for foreign governments and companies.
“Because his business partners wanted Mr. Garcia Luna to continue to be involved in their business, they provided him with housing in Miami – a large expensive house with a pier and a boat for his use – as well as other privileges,” his legal adviser said. . team wrote.
In court documents, García Luna’s defense portrays him as a dedicated civil servant and ardent anti-cartel fighter who was appointed by then-President Felipe Calderón to lead a 30,000-strong federal police force.
He claims to have helped create the “world-class intelligence platform” that ultimately led to El Chapo’s downfall, and pointed out that the drug lord’s infamous jailbreaks took place in 2001 and 2015, when Garcia Luna was out of public office.
El Chapo was convicted at his trial and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years in 2019.