Mexico fires 18 officials linked to Genaro García Luna

García Luna allegedly took millions in bribes to protect the Sinaloa Cartel

Mexico fires 18 officials linked to Genaro García Luna
Last week, U.S. prosecutors announced charges against two other former Mexican officials also accused of accepting millions in bribes from the cartel - Photo: Alexandre Meneghini/AP
English 05/08/2020 12:45 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Pedro Villa y Caña, Alberto Morales/EL UNIVERSAL, AP Actualizada 13:00
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Top officials in Mexico’s National Guard and elsewhere in the state security apparatus have been fired due to their ties with Genaro García Luna, the former Security Minister who is now held on drug trafficking charges in the United States.

U.S. prosecutors claim García Luna took tens of millions of dollars in bribes to protect Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel. García Luna, who is awaiting trial in New York, has denied the allegations.

García Luna led Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 to 2005, and from 2006 to 2012 served as Mexico’s secretary of public security before relocating to the U.S. He was arrested in December in Texas.

Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said on Tuesday that two general directors from the National Guard, as well as officials from the penitentiary system and the National Intelligence Center, had been fired. In total some 18 officials had been removed in recent months because of their ties to Genaro García Luna, he said.

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“They are positions of trust, consequently they can be removed from responsibility precisely due to the loss of trust,” Durazo said.

Durazo added that “there aren’t criminal cases (against those relieved) because they aren’t being fired because they’ve found some irregularity in their performance, (…) but we can’t be naive on this topic and we know that the network of complicity is woven when the professional careers grow in parallel, in this case to García Luna.”

“They were in the atmosphere of direct subordination to García Luna, direct or immediate,” Durazo said.

Last week, U.S. prosecutors announced charges against two other former high-ranking Mexican security officials also accused of accepting millions in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel.

Former Federal Police commanders Luis Cárdenas Palomino and Ramón Pequeño García are wanted by U.S. authorities.

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Luis Cárdenas Palomino and Ramón Pequeño García indicted in New York

On July 31, U.S. authorities accused two former Mexican officials of taking millions of dollars in bribes to protect Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s notorious Sinaloa cartel, federal prosecutors said.

Luis Cárdenas Palomino and Ramón Pequeño García worked for Genaro García Luna. According to prosecutors, the three men “permitted the Sinaloa Cartel to operate with impunity in Mexico.”

Before convicting Guzmán last year, jurors in his New York trial heard former cartel member Jesús Zambada testify that he made at least USD 6 million payments to García Luna, on behalf of his older brother, cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison last year after a jury convicted him in a massive drug conspiracy involving murder and mayhem.

ProPublica reporter Ginger Thompson wrote, “the grand jury found that instead of fighting cartels, there is evidence that these men were collaborating with (the cartel) and accepted bribes from them.”

Regarding Ramón Pequeño, the report mentioned that “he supervised the anti-drugs units that were specially examined by the U.S. Drugs Control Administration and that were related to two massacres in Mexico that left tens, and possibly hundreds of dead and missing people.”

Pequeño García was the chief of intelligence at the Federal Police and Cárdenas Palomino the chief of the Regional Security Division. U.S. authorities praised both on their efforts to fight drug cartels.

Although the accusations do not directly link Pequeño and Cárdenas Palomino to those cases, they do mention information leaks and suggest both of them were cooperating with drug cartels.

According to the ProPublica report, Pequeño García, Cárdenas Palomino, and García Luna all cooperated with the Sinaloa Cartel. The Mexican officials agreed not to interfere with the cartel’s operation, most of which was based in the U.S. Moreover, they provided the cartel leaders with information about legal proceedings against them and focused on arrests involving other cartels. Also, they put the most corrupt officials to monitor security agencies in the areas where the Sinaloa cartel operated.

The accusations are part of an investigation on corruption launched by the Mexican government after Joaquín “El Chapo Guzmán” was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

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