US arrests Genaro García Luna, Mexico ex-minister on drugs charges

A former Mexican security minister has been arrested in the US, charged with taking bribes from a drugs cartel.

Genaro García Luna is accused of allowing the Sinaloa cartel of “El Chapo” Guzman to operate in Mexico in exchange for millions of dollars in cash.

Prosecutors say Mr García Luna gave the cartel safe passage for drug shipments and access to sensitive information.

They say that on two occasions cartel members delivered up to 5 million USD in two briefcases to him in person.

He has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Mr García Luna, 52, served as public security chief in the administration of President Felipe Calderon between 2006 and 2012.

According to the BBC, his arrest in Texas is a major development in Mexican politics.

Mr García Luna was not just an important figure in Mr Calderon’s administration – he was Mexico’s secretary of public security, the face of the country’s federal police force, our correspondent adds.

Mr Calderon, with US backing, deployed troops against the cartels for the first time. Tens of thousands died in Mexico in drug-related violence during his “war on drugs”.

Mr García Luna was taken into custody in Dallas, Texas, on Monday, prosecutors in New York said.

Court documents unsealed on Tuesday in Brooklyn showed he had been charged with cocaine trafficking conspiracy and making false statements.

“García Luna stands accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel while he controlled Mexico’s Federal Police Force and was responsible for ensuring public safety in Mexico,” said US Attorney Richard Donoghue, announcing the arrest.

He was also accused of lying about his criminal past when he applied for US naturalization in 2018.

During that trial, ex-cartel member Jesus “Rey” Zambada alleged that he had personally delivered two suitcases containing millions of dollars in bribes to Mr García Luna at a restaurant.

Mr García Luna denied those allegations at the time, calling them “lies, defamation and perjury”.

US prosecutors allege that the former minister used his position to protect the Sinaloa cartel’s trafficking operations from 2001 to 2012, enabling it to operate “with impunity” in Mexico.

If found guilty, he faces between 10 years to life in prison.