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Mexico’s former security chief convicted in US of helping cartel smuggle drugs

The previous head of Mexico’s safety forces, Genaro García Luna, has been discovered responsible of serving to the nation’s infamous Sinaloa cartel develop with impunity and flood US cities with cocaine, turning into the highest-ranking authorities official to be convicted over hyperlinks to drug trafficking.

A jury in Brooklyn returned the decision on Tuesday, following a four-week trial during which members of the cartel as soon as run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán testified that García Luna accepted thousands and thousands of {dollars} price of bribes from the identical legal organisation he was presupposed to deliver to justice.

The trial, which has been avidly adopted by Mexicans, highlighted how corruption has undermined efforts to cease the rising toll of violence and demise brought on by the unlawful drug commerce. On Wednesday President Andrés Manuel López Obrador mentioned the decision was consultant of the “decay” the nation had suffered.

“The primary downside in Mexico is corruption, that is the crux of the problem, we have to go deeper,” he mentioned at his morning information convention.

The prosecution alleged that the safety García Luna afforded the cartel allowed it to smuggle tens of hundreds of kilogrammes of cocaine into the US, and transfer round Mexico with out hindrance. Members of the cartel have been even given regulation enforcement uniforms and credentials, in addition to police autos, prosecutors mentioned.

“García Luna, who as soon as stood on the pinnacle of regulation enforcement in Mexico, will now reside the remainder of his days having been revealed as a traitor to his nation,” US lawyer Breon Peace mentioned after the decision.

“It’s unconscionable that the defendant betrayed his responsibility . . . by greedily accepting thousands and thousands of {dollars} in bribe cash that was stained by the blood of cartel wars and drug-related battles,” Peace added.

In closing statements final week, assistant US lawyer Saritha Komatireddy mentioned García Luna managed Mexico’s “highways, airport and ports” and thus helped the Sinaloa cartel develop into the “FedEx of cocaine”, transferring the drug throughout North America utilizing trains, ships, containers and submarines.

García Luna, who went on to develop into Mexico’s public safety minister and was the face of the nation’s warfare on medicine in the course of the Felipe Calderón administration, was discovered responsible of 5 counts, together with cocaine distribution and making a false assertion to the US authorities.

The 54-year-old now faces a compulsory minimal sentence of 20 years, and a most of life imprisonment. A sentencing date was set for June 27.

García Luna was arrested in Dallas in 2019, after proof given within the trial that led to the conviction of El Chapo pointed to his involvement with the Sinaloa cartel. He had pleaded not responsible to the fees.

US prosecutors known as quite a few former cartel members, together with Sergio “El Grande” Villarreal Barragán and accountant Jesús “El Rey” Zambada, who testified that he oversaw thousands and thousands of {dollars} in money being given to García Luna in a Mexico Metropolis restaurant.

“You heard immediately from the individuals who paid him,” prosecutors instructed the jury throughout closing arguments final week, including that the defendant had “helped arrest and kill Sinaloa cartel rivals”.

García Luna’s counsel mentioned the witnesses have been criminals chargeable for “horrific crimes” who have been “testifying to save lots of themselves” in alternate for extra beneficial sentences or their households being allowed to affix them within the US.

Talking outdoors the courthouse on Tuesday, his lawyer, César de Castro, mentioned “the federal government had no dependable proof to corroborate their witnesses,” and that Garcia Luna’s “combat will proceed”. He later added that his consumer would contemplate interesting in opposition to the decision.

The trial has develop into a political flashpoint in Mexico, the place López Obrador has used it to gasoline allegations that his predecessors have been all corrupt, specifically Calderón, who narrowly beat him within the 2006 election.

The populist president hoped García Luna would now provide data in opposition to Calderón, saying: “What’s the clarification that you just’re going to present to the folks of Mexico on why you named García Luna, and do you know or not?”

In a press release on Wednesday Calderón mentioned: “I fought with all willpower in opposition to crime, with the complete drive of the regulation, with out giving respite to or making distinctions between teams. I by no means negotiated or agreed with criminals [and] by no means used my place as president to advocate for his or her pursuits.”


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