Genaro García Luna, who previously served as Mexico’s security minister, has been arrested in the United States. He is accused of having accepted bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel. According to prosecutors, García Luna gave drug traffickers both safe passage as well as information in exchange for millions of dollars.
García Luna served as public security chief during the presidency of Felipe Calderon from 2006 and 2012. During that period, the Mexican drug war was going through its most violent phase; and for the first time federal troops were deployed against the cartels. As secretary for public security at the time, García Luna headed the country’s federal police force.
Taken into custody in Texas, the ex-minister faces numerous charges in New York. Among these are allegations of cocaine trafficking conspiracy and making false statements. “García Luna stands accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from [Joaquín] ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel while he controlled Mexico’s Federal Police Force and was responsible for ensuring public safety in Mexico,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue.
Some of the alleged false statements relate to García Luna’s application for naturalization in the United States in 2018.
In Guzmán’s trial, former cartel member Jesus “Rey” Zambada claimed that he personally delivered two suitcases with millions of dollars in bribes to García Luna in a restaurant.
This is not the first time that the ex-minister is accused of corruption. In 2013, a year after leaving public service, Forbes included him in their list of ten most corrupt Mexicans. Calderon’s successor dissolved the position previously held by García Luna following the latter’s departure from public life.
Between 2012 and 2019, García Luna maintained a low profile. He is believed to have spent most of that time in the United States.
U.S. interest in the ongoing Mexican drug war has increased in the past couple of months. And Trump has pledged to classify drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
It remains unclear how the Mexican government will respond to Luna’s arrest. But since he was not involved in the current government it’s unlikely that he will gain much sympathy. More importantly, since he no longer resides in Mexico the issues of jurisdiction or sovereignty are unlikely to arise.
His arrest will probably not lead to arrests by U.S. authorities of active Mexican officials. The U.S., especially local and state officials, are unlikely and unable to arrest those travelling with diplomatic passports. Additionally, such a violation of diplomatic norms could potentially compromise U.S.-Mexican relations across the board.
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