Genaro García Luna pleads not guilty to drug trafficking charges in NY

García Luna pleaded not guilty to U.S. charges he accepted bribes to protect the Sinaloa drug cartel once run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and let it operate with impunity

Genaro García Luna pleads not guilty to drug trafficking charges in NY
García Luna is a former Mexican government official who oversaw public security – Photo: REUTERS
English 03/01/2020 16:23 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Reuters, Víctor Sancho Actualizada 11:39

Leer en español

On Friday, a former Mexican government official who oversaw public security in his country pleaded not guilty to U.S. charges he accepted millions of dollars in bribes to protect the Sinaloa drug cartel once run by Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and let it operate with impunity.

Genaro García Luna, 51, entered his plea through a translator at a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn, where lawyers signaled he may be in talks to change his plea later.

Did you know García Luna was transferred to New York for his trial?

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo ordered García Luna to be detained after Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Reid called him an “unacceptable risk of flight,” citing his alleged contacts with the Sinaloa cartel.

The defendant’s court-appointed lawyer said he would seek bail later.

Have you heard Genaro García Luna is a priority in Mexico?

García Luna, who had moved to Florida and was living there before his arrest, has been charged with drug trafficking conspiracy and making false statements and faces up to life in prison if convicted.

He was arrested 3.5 weeks ago in Dallas but agreed to face the charges in Brooklyn, where drug lord El Chapo Guzmán was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole last year for smuggling tons of drugs to the United States in a colorful, decades-long career.

Did you know nobody wants to be linked to García Luna?

García Luna wore handcuffs, tan pants, and a gray sweatshirt in the courtroom, with a pair of glasses hanging from his neckline.

Kuo agreed to delay the case so the parties could negotiate what Reid called a “potential disposition” without the need for a trial, language that often signals a future guilty plea.

Did you know Gerardo García Luna's alleged accomplices include his wife and sister?

A lawyer for García Luna who could not attend Friday’s hearing did not immediately respond to a request for comment. U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan, who oversaw El Chapo’s trial, scheduled a January 21 status conference for García Luna.

Once considered a leader in Mexico’s efforts to reduce drug trafficking, García Luna led that country’s Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 to 2005 and was minister of public security from 2006 to 2012.

Did you know Mexican and U.S. authorities go after Genaro García Luna?

But prosecutors said the Sinaloa Cartel bribed García Luna throughout his time in government to ensure safe passage for its drugs, and to obtain information about rival cartels and Mexican probes into its activities.

García Luna had been the subject of testimony at Guzmán’s trial by Jesús Zambada, the brother of Guzmán’s partner Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

Have you heard the two previous administrations allegedly transferred millions to account linked to García Luna?

Jesús Zambada said he had given García Luna a suitcase containing USD $3 million in 2005 or 2006, and paid him another USD $3 million to $5 million in 2007.

At the time, García Luna rejected the accusations, calling them “defamation” and without proof.

Did you know Genaro García Luna received millions from the previous Mexico City's administration?

On February 15, it was revealed García Luna, through his public defender, requested to be released on bail and offered up to USD $1 million to be his trial outside prison.

Lawyer César de Castro sent a letter requesting judge Brian Cogan to release Genaro García from custody on a $1 million bond. The lawyer argues that it is not necessary for the former Security Minister to remain in prison since he has no reason to escape, especially since he has no access to his bank accounts in Mexico and he would be immediately arrested in the country.

The lawyer affirms that if García Luna is released on bond, he would hand over his passport and green card to authorities.

César de Castro added that the former security chief wouldn’t flee the U.S. now because he didn’t leave last year when he was mentioned during El Chapo’s trial.

Judge Brian Cogan asked both parties to schedule a hearing and discuss the bond.

Last week, the U.S. government presented the first evidence in the case against Genaro García Luna.

mp/gm
 

 

Video