HomeNewsAnalysisMexico’s Former Top Security Official Indicted on US Drug Charges
ANALYSIS

Mexico’s Former Top Security Official Indicted on US Drug Charges

MEXICO / 11 DEC 2019 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

US authorities have arrested the former top security official in Mexico during the administration of former President Felipe Calderón on drug charges and taking bribes from traffickers, a bombshell development following the trial of the former kingpin “El Chapo” Guzmán.

Genaro García Luna, the Secretary of Public Security in Mexico from 2006 to 2012, was arrested December 9 in the state of Texas. In exchange for “multimillion-dollar bribes,” US prosecutors allege that García Luna “permitted the Sinaloa Cartel to operate with impunity in Mexico,” the US Justice Department announced in a December 10 press release.

García Luna was the head of Mexico’s federal police for six years, during which time the Sinaloa Cartel “obtained safe passage for its drug shipments, sensitive law enforcement information about investigations into the cartel and information about rival drug cartels,” according to US authorities.

In 2010, while García Luna was atop the federal police, the Mexican economist and lawyer Edgardo Buscaglia estimated that the Sinaloa Cartel controlled some 45 percent of Mexico's drug trade. However, the cartel's members represented only about two percent of those arrested on organized crime charges between 2004 and 2010, according to a report from The Economist at the time.

SEE ALSO: Mexico News and Profiles

On at least two occasions, prosecutors allegedly have evidence that Sinaloa Cartel bagmen delivered bribes to García Luna via briefcases stuffed with between $3 million and $5 million in cash. García Luna was a millionaire by the time he retired from public service and relocated to the United States in 2012.

If convicted, García Luna faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life behind bars.

“I do not know of any details and I am awaiting information that confirms these facts,” former President Calderón said in response to to the allegations on Twitter. “My position will always be in favor of law and justice.”

Since Calderón kicked off the so-called “war on drugs” against Mexico’s organized crime groups in 2006 -- of which García Luna was the prime architect -- some 200,000 citizens have been murdered while tens of thousands more have disappeared. The war continues to rage on today to no avail, even after its top target, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, alias “El Chapo,” was sentenced to life for leading a drug trafficking empire earlier this year.

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrest of García Luna is a damning sign that authorities, at least in the United States, are zeroing in on the pervasive corruption within the Mexican government that was prominently put on display during the US trial of El Chapo.

From opening statements, the former drug lord’s defense team put a spotlight on the rampant government corruption they alleged facilitated their client’s drug trafficking activities. Jeffrey Lichtman, one of the defense attorneys, alleged that former presidents Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto both took “hundreds of millions in bribes” from Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael Zambada García, alias “El Mayo.”

In addition, El Mayo's younger brother, Jesús “El Rey” Zambada García, testified during the trial that the Sinaloa Cartel had delivered $50 million in bribes to García Luna, which the former security chief flatly called a lie. Being in the pocket of high-level officials like the country's top cop is an integral part of how organizations like the Sinaloa Cartel operate successfully.

SEE ALSO: Sinaloa Cartel News and Profile

García Luna’s arrest now raises some interesting questions, including if and when former President Calderón knew of his top security official’s reportedly intimate links to not only the country’s most powerful drug trafficking organization, but its top drug lord. What’s more, it remains to be seen if others alleged throughout the course of El Chapo’s trial to have engaged in corruption, such as former President Peña Nieto, will face consequences for their suspected wrongdoing as well.

The arrest also further calls into question the government’s failed security strategy against Mexico’s drug trafficking groups. Not only was the strategy seriously flawed, but the latest arrest suggests that those charged with leading the fight were actually in bed with those they were supposedly targeting.

Finally, the arrest makes clear that only in the United States can corrupt Mexican officials face justice for working hand-in-hand with criminal organizations. In Mexico, they are free to work as they please, no matter the costs.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 10 JUN 2011

Mexico's authorities have discovered 14 bodies in a series of clandestine graves in Acapulco, thought to be victims of drug…

SINALOA CARTEL / 8 NOV 2012

Australian police arrested two men on suspicion of trafficking narcotics from Mexico to Melbourne, a reminder of the growing importance…

AYOTZINAPA / 24 MAY 2016

Mexico's Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center reports that impunity over human rights violations in the country generates an unconscionable…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.