Mexican Official on Trial in Brooklyn: Shedding Light on Government-Cartel Ties
Genaro García Luna, the former head of Mexico’s security ministry and its war against powerful drug cartels, is currently on trial in Brooklyn, New York, facing charges of conspiring to traffic drugs into the US and of taking multimillion-dollar bribes from the Sinaloa cartel in exchange for impunity. The trial, which is drawing a cadre of primarily Spanish-speaking journalists and curious members of the public to the Brooklyn courthouse, has revealed the close ties between the Mexican government and organized crime.
The testimony of the witnesses in the case has been explosive, and has implicated two top Mexican law enforcement figures as accomplices. Arturo Beltrán Leyva, one of the cartel kingpins, allegedly kidnapped García Luna for refusing to take his side in a civil war. Other witnesses have testified to multimillion-dollar payments made to García Luna, with one witness saying he personally packed duffle bags full of cash to pay the defendant.
The trial has also implicated former President Felipe Calderón in a scheme granting the Sinaloa cartel protection. Jesús “El Rey – The King” Zambada Garcia, the Mexican narco who cut a plea deal, testified that he personally packed duffel bags full of cash to pay Garcia Luna, and then watched him collect those duffel bags. By Veytia’s account, in 2008, then governor to Nayarit Ney González, told him he held a meeting with Calderón and Garcia Luna, who gave the order to protect the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, El Chapo Guzmán, during the height of the “war on drugs” in the early 2000s.
Despite the parade of witnesses, the prosecution’s case has been surprisingly thin in terms of compelling evidence regarding García Luna’s activities, relying instead largely on the testimony of people who have themselves been convicted of graft or drug trafficking. Some media and sections of the public have found the testimony hard to believe, with García Luna's lawyer saying there is no evidence of money, photos, emails, or text messages.
García Luna is one of the highest-ranking Mexican officials to be accused of collaborating with drug cartels, and his trial is shedding light on the blurred lines between the Mexican government and organized crime.
0. “He was the head of Mexico's FBI. Now he's on trial for accepting cartel bribes” NPR, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/02/14/1156093005/head-mexico-fbi-trial-cartel-bribes
1. “Kidnappings, suitcases of cash and tons of cocaine: Inside the Brooklyn trial of Mexico's former top cop” Yahoo News, 10 Feb. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/kidnappings-suitcases-of-cash-and-tons-of-cocaine-inside-the-brooklyn-trial-of-mexicos-former-top-cop-193847843.html
2. “Mexican ex-security chief on trial: multimillion bribe claims and a cat named cocaine” The Guardian, 12 Feb. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/12/prosecution-drawing-to-close-in-us-trial-against-mexican-ex-security-chief
3. “Testimony on Felipe Calderón’s alleged cartel ties stirs debate about prosecuting former Mexican leaders” Aztec Reports, 14 Feb. 2023, https://aztecreports.com/testimony-on-felipe-calderons-alleged-cartel-ties-stirs-debate-about-prosecuting-former-mexican-leaders/3448/