The former top Mexican security official has been convicted in the United States of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks from the Sinaloa drug cartel once run by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Prosecutors told a New York court that, in exchange, Genaro Garcia Luna provided safe passage for shipments of cocaine, protection from arrest and intelligence on law enforcement operations against the cartel.
Garcia Luna, 54, had pleaded not guilty to taking part in an ongoing criminal enterprise, but faces a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life behind bars.
A US federal district court jury in Brooklyn, New York convicted Garcia Luna on five counts, including conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Garcia Luna is one of the highest Mexican officials ever convicted of ties to a drug cartel. Between 2001 and 2005 he headed the Federal Investigation Agency of Mexico and became minister of public safety in 2006.
Prosecutor Saritha Komatireddy told the jury that Garcia Luna had been instrumental in the cartel’s transportation of cocaine.
“These leaders paid bribes to the defendant for protection — and they got what they paid for,” Komatireddy said in his closing argument on Feb. 15, referring to Guzman and two other high-level Sinaloa Cartel figures.
And he added that Garcia Luna had “used his official position in government to make millions of dollars from the people he was supposed to prosecute.”
After leaving office, Garcia luna moved to the United States and was arrested in 2019 in Texas.
Earlier this month, Mexican authorities charged Garcia Luna with embezzling as much as $745.9 million from government technology contracts while in office.
Pablo Gómez, the head of Mexico’s anti-money laundering unit, said Garcia Luna and associates set up companies that landed 30 dubious government contracts while he was Mexico’s top security official in 2006-2012 and for six years afterward.
Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin Guzman Loera aka
Garcia Luna “has put together a web of corruption and money laundering for the benefit of himself and his close associates,” Gómez said.
Guzman was sentenced to life in prison in 2019 following his conviction in Brooklyn for drug trafficking and conspiracy to murder. He is held in a maximum security prison “Supermax” in Colorado.
Reuters contributed to this report.