Home News Former top Mexican official convicted of taking millions in bribes from cartel

Former top Mexican official convicted of taking millions in bribes from cartel


NEW YORK — A former top law enforcement official who oversaw Mexico’s efforts to combat narcotics trafficking was convicted Tuesday of taking millions in bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Genaro García Luna, who headed the equivalent of the FBI in Mexico, was charged in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn in 2019 with acting as an enabler for the cartel, which is notorious for engaging in rampant violence to keep its operation running.

After a month-long trial that began in January, a jury found Garcia Luna guilty on all five counts in an indictment that included his alleged involvement in an ongoing criminal enterprise, international cocaine distribution and drug-related conspiracies.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Saritha Komatireddy said in closing statements that Garcia Luna was “a smart, ambitious, powerful and self-serving politician” who accepted millions of dollars “from the very people he was supposed to prosecute.”

Garcia Luna took bribe money “in briefcases, in duffel bags, in boxes full of cash,” Komatireddy said. He also hand-delivered cocaine for the organization, tipped them off to anticipated law enforcement actions, and helped arrest and kill members of rival cartels.

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Garcia Luna was a point of contact for officials in the U.S. who dealt with Mexico in efforts to thwart narcotics trafficking. He ran the Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 to 2005 and was the country’s secretary of public security from 2006 to 2012.

During the trial, 25 witnesses were called by the prosecution — including several high-level members of the Sinaloa organization, whose leader was tried and convicted in the same U.S. courthouse in 2019.

“These witnesses were close to the top,” Komatireddy said to jurors. “High up enough to know about the cartel’s most sensitive and important government relationships, including its relationship with the defendant.”

Garcia Luna’s attorney, Cesar de Castro, told jurors the prosecution’s case relied entirely on the testimony of criminals. “Nothing backs up what these killers, torturers, fraudsters, and epic narcotics traffickers claimed about Genaro Garcia Luna,” he said during closing arguments.

De Castro said the prosecution’s witnesses were motivated by the promise of leniency in their own legal matters and the possibility of starting new lives in the U.S. with the government’s assistance.

In drug cases, prosecutors frequently rely on the testimony of cooperating witnesses who are also involved in the criminal activity.