Garcia Luna Trial: Tons of cocaine, suitcases full of cash and kidnappings

In this Oct. 8, 2010 file photo, Mexico's Secretary of Public Safety Genaro Garcia Luna attends a press conference on the sidelines of an American Police Community meeting in Mexico City. Garcia Luna, who is in custody and facing drug trafficking charges in New York, has been charged in a superseding indictment on Thursday, July 30, 2020, with continuing criminal enterprise. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

Genaro García Luna is one of the highest-ranking Mexican officials to be accused of collaborating with drug cartels.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The most compelling true crime drama of 2023 so far is arguably playing out on the eighth floor of a federal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn.

Over the past four weeks, a steady stream of characters, including convicted members of some of Mexico’s most notorious drug cartels, government officials, and current and former law enforcement agents from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, have regaled the court with firsthand accounts of one of the most violent periods in that country’s recent history.

Their testimonies included tales of kidnappings, murder, suitcases full of cash and millions of dollars’ worth of drugs flowing in and out of Mexico’s major air- and seaports. They’ve described encounters with drug traffickers wearing official police badges and uniforms and federal law enforcement agents in Mexico driving luxury sports cars and carrying gold-plated handguns — narratives that shed light on the tangled web of corruption that has long plagued efforts to dismantle the country’s vastly profitable drug trade.

At the center of these stories, or in some cases looming large in the background, is Genaro García Luna, Mexico’s former top security official, who is now on trial in the United States for allegedly helping the Sinaloa drug cartel funnel tons of cocaine and other drugs into the U.S. in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes.

Between 2001 and 2012, García Luna served as the public face of his country’s war on drugs, first as head of Mexico’s equivalent of the FBI and then as public security secretary, a Cabinet-level position in the government of then-President Felipe Calderón, who made cracking down on drug gangs a focus of his administration.

But, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn argue, while García Luna was making headlines for high-profile narco arrests and garnering praise from American law enforcement partners in Washington, he was secretly conspiring with the same criminals he claimed to be trying to take down.

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