US charges ex-Mexican official with taking bribes from cartel

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel allegedly bribed Garcia Luna throughout his time in government.

Genaro Garcia Luna
Genaro Garcia Luna attending a meeting with the Human Rights commission at the Senate in Mexico City while serving as Public Security Minister [File: Tomas Bravo/Reuters]

A former Mexican official has been charged in the United States with accepting millions of dollars of bribes from the Sinaloa drugs cartel, once run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, to enable it to operate with impunity in Mexico, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Genaro Garcia Luna, 51, was arrested in Dallas, Texas, on Monday, and is expected to be moved to Brooklyn, New York, to face the charges, the US Department of Justice said.

A lawyer for the defendant could not immediately be identified.

Garcia Luna was head of Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 to 2005 and the country’s secretary of public security from 2006 to 2012.

According to an indictment, the Sinaloa cartel bribed Garcia Luna throughout his time in government to ensure safe passage for its drugs, and obtain information about rival cartels and Mexican probes into its activities.

Prosecutors said Garcia Luna, who moved to the US in 2012 and is now a Florida resident, also lied about his past criminal conduct on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel when he applied for naturalisation in 2018.

El Chapo
Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman is escorted by soldiers after his arrest [File: Tomas Bravo/Reuters] 

The defendant faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison, and up to life in prison, if convicted on a drug conspiracy charge.

Guzman was convicted in February by a Brooklyn federal jury of smuggling tonnes of drugs to the US over a decades-long career.

He is serving a life sentence without parole at ADX Florence, a Colorado prison known as the most secure “Supermax” prison in the federal system.

Guzman had become almost legendary for escaping from Mexican high-security jails twice and avoiding massive manhunts, while cultivated a Robin Hood image among the poor in Sinaloa.

Source: Reuters