The US finds the former head of Mexico's security forces guilty of collaborating with drug traffickers

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Genaro García Luna organized the war against drug trafficking in Mexico with one hand and with the other he collected bribes from the bloodthirsty bosses of the drug cartels. Everything that in public seemed to separate him from Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known worldwide as El Chapo, and his Sinaloa drug traffickers, united them in their greed for privacy.

This is what the Brooklyn court jury believes, which on Tuesday handed down a guilty verdict, after four weeks of oral hearing and three days of deliberation, against the former head of security in the North American country, in what represents a fall in the depths of the leader of the Mexican police force, equivalent to the FBI, between 2006 and 2012.

At 54, García Luna faces a possible sentence of a minimum of a decade in prison, and could be life, for a string of charges of cocaine trafficking and other crimes. His face did not express any emotion when magistrate Brian M. Cogan, the same one who in 2019 imposed life imprisonment on Chapo, read the verdict. His wife and his daughter, sitting behind him, did not let any gesture escape either.

It was that 2019, after the testimonies collected against the head of the Sinaloa cartel, that the former Mexican police chief was arrested in Texas. He had established his residence in the US at the end of his term with President Felipe Calderón. He is now the senior official of his country who has received the highest sentence after being tried in the United States.

His guilt was based on the testimony of half a dozen drug traffickers, who are detained in the United States serving sentences or awaiting their sentence, and who decided to seek more benign sentences by collaborating with US justice. According to his descriptions, García Luna received briefcases with millions of dollars on a regular basis.

The prosecution had no secret recordings or revealing documents. The word of the repentant has been his trump card. The defense lawyer tried to make the jury see that these testimonies were only seeking revenge against whoever had persecuted them. The jury has not believed him and has given total truth to the witnesses when they affirmed that García Luna was on the payroll of Chapo or Arturo Beltrán Leyva, the hidden hand of Sinaloa.

For years, Mexicans were more than suspicious that senior officials in their government maintained alliances with the same drug traffickers who had been spreading pain and death in their own country for years. For many, the verdict is also a cathartic shock to see someone like García Luna, who was untouchable, receive punishment for his continued involvement in the criminal enterprise.

The government of the current president, Manuel Andrés López Obrador, quickly seized on the verdict as a weapon against the opposition, something that it has been doing throughout the entire trial, for which the defendant worked.

"García Luna has been found guilty of drug trafficking, organized crime and document forgery in the US," tweeted Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, spokesman for President López Obrador. “Justice has arrived for whoever was Felipe Calderón's squire. The crimes against our people will never be forgotten,” he added.

The celebration was also carried out by US federal prosecutors who brought the charges in 2019 after years of rumors and aborted investigations. “García Luna, once at the top of Mexico's law enforcement, will now spend the rest of his days knowing that he was a traitor to his country and to the honest members of the security forces who risked their lives to dismantle drug cartels," prosecutor Breon Peace said in a statement.

“It is unquestionable that the defendant betrayed his obligation as head of public safety out of a greed to accept millions of dollars in bribes, which were stained by the blood of cartel warfare and drug-related battles in the United States and Mexico, to instead of protecting the murderers and traffickers whom he had sworn to fight,” he stressed. "This is a light for the rule of law," Peace stressed.

In conversation with journalists in the judicial building, defense attorney César de Castro expressed his disappointment with the verdict. "After years of trying to build a case against García Luna with reliable and credible evidence, the prosecution has been forced to agree to some of the most notorious and ruthless criminals to testify in court," the lawyer said.

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