Former cartel bosses, drug traffickers and police officers took the stand this week in the trial of Genaro García Luna, Mexico’s former federal security minister and architect of the country’s war on drugs, which he carried out while publicly working with the DEA and secretly working with the world most powerful drug cartel capo, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
No, this is not a script for the fourth season of Netflix’s ‘El Chapo’ series though it would make an intriguing Mexican telenovela as the most trusted ally of the U.S. for more than a decade now stands trial in the same Brooklyn courtroom where El Chapo was tried and sentenced to life in prison four years ago. In fact, the allegations against García Luna came out during El Chapo’s trial.
García Luna, the highest-ranking Mexican official ever tried in the U.S. for drug corruption, is being accused of accepting multimillion-dollar bribes from El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for helping the cartel evade capture, among other crimes. He has pled not guilty to all charges.
García Luna’s defense team, led by César de Castro says the government does not have enough evidence to convict his client, who was arrested in 2019.
There is “no money, no photos, no video, no texts, no emails, no recording, no documents — no credible, believable evidence that Genaro García Luna helped the cartel,” the defense said during opening statements.
De Castro said convicted cartel members on the prosecution’s list of witnesses are taking the stand because they cut deals to lessen their own sentences and to get back at his client because García Luna helped send them to prison.
“Don’t let the cartels play you,” de Castro told jurors.
The prosecution begs to differ. Led by Saritha Komatireddy of the US Attorney’s Office, the prosecution says the protection García Luna provided to the Sinaloa Cartel enabled it to traffic huge amounts of drugs into the U.S. At the time of El Chapo’s arrest in 2016, the cartel was supplying more than half the cocaine, heroin, meth and marijuana coming into the U.S. Today, the Sinaloa Cartel is known to be a major producer and exporter of deadly fentanyl to the U.S.
“He [García Luna] is a man who betrayed his country and ours,” said government attorney Philip Pilmar, per various news outlets. “The defendant took millions of dollars of bribes again, again and again.”
The prosecution has a list of over 70 witnesses ready to testify in the trial, which is expected to last more than two months. (Full Story)