U.S.

Opening statements to begin in drug trafficking trial of Mexico’s former top cop

Opening statements are set to begin Monday morning in the trial of former Mexican Secretary of Public Security Genaro García Luna, who is facing decades of possible prison time based on allegations that he took millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for helping a drug cartel he was supposedly trying to stop.

Luna was responsible for taking down several big-name cartel leaders as he ran Mexico’s version of the FBI, which was tasked with a brutal crackdown against drug violence during the Calderon administration, but authorities say Luna was living a double life and helping cartels escape the law at the same time.

One cartel in particular, prosecutors say, is the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, once run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who himself is serving a life sentence following a conviction at trial in U.S. federal court in the Eastern District of New York. Luna’s trial will be taking place in the same courthouse.

“The Sinaloa Cartel used the corruption of public officials in Mexico as a means and method of achieving the goals of its drug trafficking enterprise,” Luna’s indictment said. 

MEXICO’S FORMER TOP SECURITY OFFICIAL SET TO FACE TRIAL IN US FOR DRUG TRAFFICKING, AIDING CARTELS

FILE- In this Jan 3, 2020 file courtroom sketch, defense attorney Cesar de Castro, left, Mexico’s former top security official, Genaro Garcia Luna, center, and a court interpreter, appear for an arraignment hearing in Brooklyn federal court in New York, Jan. 3, 2020. The former top security official is scheduled to go on trial Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, on charges he accepted millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for helping the powerful Sinaloa Cartel move drugs and its members avoid capture.
( (G3 Box News Photo/Elizabeth Williams, File))

Prosecutors say that in exchange for bribes, Luna helped the cartel by not interfering in drug shipments from Mexico, most of which went to the United States, giving the cartel “sensitive law enforcement information” about operations against the cartel, targeting members of rival cartels, and placing corrupt officials in areas controlled by the cartel.

Luna was responsible for taking down several big-name cartel leaders as he ran Mexico’s version of the FBI, which was tasked with a brutal crackdown against drug violence during the administration of former President Felipe Calderón, but authorities say Luna was living a double life and helping cartels escape the law at the same time.

SINALOA, MEXICO, ENGULFED BY VIOLENCE, CHAOS AFTER EL CHAPO SON ARREST, AHEAD OF BIDEN VISIT TO COUNTRY

Cesar De Castro, attorney for Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico's former top security official, arrives to Federal court in Brooklyn, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in New York. Luna goes on trial on charges of helping the Sinaloa Cartel traffic drugs and protect them from capture while he was serving as Mexico’s top security official. 

Cesar De Castro, attorney for Genaro Garcia Luna, Mexico’s former top security official, arrives to Federal court in Brooklyn, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in New York. Luna goes on trial on charges of helping the Sinaloa Cartel traffic drugs and protect them from capture while he was serving as Mexico’s top security official. 
( (G3 Box News Photo/John Minchillo))

Luna is accused of helping the cartel as early as 2001, and the indictment against him specifies several alleged instances of him facilitating the distribution of thousands of kilograms of cocaine, in what was alleged to be a “continuing criminal enterprise.”

Prosecutors are expected to provide evidence in the form of pay stubs that show him accepting money from various proxies linked to the cartels.

Luna eventually moved to the United States, where he was arrested in 2019. He was living in Miami before he was eventually apprehended outside Dallas, Texas.

The seal of the United The facade of Federal court in Brooklyn, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in New York. Genaro Garcia Luna goes on trial on charges of helping the Sinaloa Cartel traffic drugs and protect them from capture while he was serving as Mexico’s top security official. (G3 Box News Photo/John Minchillo)

The seal of the United The facade of Federal court in Brooklyn, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in New York. Genaro Garcia Luna goes on trial on charges of helping the Sinaloa Cartel traffic drugs and protect them from capture while he was serving as Mexico’s top security official. (G3 Box News Photo/John Minchillo)
(The G3 Box News)

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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has welcomed the trial, which is expected to cast light on corruption in the administration of Calderón, whom the president accuses of robbing him of the presidency in 2006.

Jury selection took place last week for the trial, which prosecutors expect will last roughly eight weeks.

G3 Box News’ Andrew Mark Miller and the G3 Box News contributed to this report.

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