As per the criminal defense attorney in Gilbert, Arizona, Ex-Mexican Official Accused, former Mexican public safety chief Genaro García Luna has been accused of receiving millions of dollars in payoffs aimed at securing impunity for the infamous Sinaloa cartel.
A key prosecution witness, former cartel member Jesús “El Rey” Zambada, testified at García Luna’s U.S. drug trafficking trial and stated that he had made payments to García Luna through an intermediary who told him that the security chief would shield the cartel. Zambada, however, said he didn’t directly discuss the purpose of the money with García Luna.
Zambada’s testimony echoed descriptions of cocaine shipments by planes, trains, and submarines, facilitated by police and officials under García Luna’s oversight, and by the federal police leader-turned-presidential cabinet member himself, according to Zambada.
The former member described an arm’s-length quid pro quo, where he would make payments to García Luna through an intermediary, who informed him that García Luna would protect the cartel. Zambada testified that the protection meant that the security chief would not bother his brother, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, who helped lead the cartel, and would enable the cartel to get its preferred commanders placed in various locations.
García Luna was arrested following the allegations by Jesús “El Rey” Zambada, who initially aired them at the trial of Sinaloa kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. Since then, a series of ex-cartel members and admittedly corrupt former law enforcement officials have testified against García Luna.
His attorneys have argued that the prosecution is relying on untrustworthy criminals cooperating with the government to reduce their sentences or to avenge themselves on García Luna for trying to crack down on the drug trade.
García Luna served as secretary of public security to then-President Felipe Calderón from 2006 to 2012 and was in charge of fighting drug cartels. He moved to Miami in 2012 and became a security consultant.
If convicted, the 54-year-old could face decades in prison. García Luna has indicated that he does not plan to testify at his trial, and his lawyers haven’t presented their witnesses yet.
In his questioning of Zambada, defense lawyer César de Castro emphasized that the witness admitted to conspiring in cartel killings, to which Zambada agreed.
Zambada was arrested in Mexico in 2008, extradited to the U.S. four years later, pleaded guilty to drug and other charges, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison after cooperating with the government. He is now on supervised release.
The testimony by Jesús “El Rey” Zambada could prove significant in the prosecution of García Luna, who has denied the charges against him. The allegations of receiving payoffs from drug cartels by high-ranking government officials have long plagued Mexico, where drug trafficking has been rampant for decades.
The outcome of García Luna’s trial could have significant implications for Mexico’s ongoing efforts to combat drug trafficking and corruption.