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U.S. court unveils charges against Genaro Garcia Luna tied to El Chapo's cartel

By Sommer Brokaw
U.S. court unveils charges against Genaro Garcia Luna tied to El Chapo's cartel
Charges against Genaro Garcia Luna (L) accuse him accepting bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel. File Photo courtesy of the Department of Justice 

Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Mexico's former secretary of public security, Genaro Garcia Luna, faces federal charges in New York for allegedly taking millions in bribes to protect the drug cartel once run by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, an indictment unsealed Tuesday indicates.

Luna, 51, who used to serve in high-ranking law enforcement positions in Mexico from 2001-12, was charged in Brooklyn with three counts of cocaine trafficking conspiracy and one count of making false statements related to allegations that he allowed the Sinaloa Cartel to go unpunished in exchange for bribes.

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Federal agents arrested Luna on Monday in Dallas. The U.S. government plans to seek his removal to the Eastern District of New York to face the charges that were unveiled there, a U.S. Department of Justice statement shows.

"Garcia 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," U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue said in the statement. "Today's arrest demonstrates our resolve to bring to justice those who help cartels inflict devastating harm on the United States and Mexico, regardless of the positions they held while committing their crimes."

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From 2001-12, Luna allegedly protected the cartel's drug trafficking activities in exchange for millions of dollars of bribes, according to the indictment and other court filings by the government. From 2001-05, Luna headed up Mexico's Federal Investigation Agency, and from 2006-12, he served as Mexico's secretary of public security, controlling Mexico's Federal Police Force.

In particular, "the Sinaloa Cartel obtained safe passage for its drug shipments, sensitive law enforcement information about investigations into the cartel, and information about rival drug cartels, thereby facilitating the importation of multi-ton quantities of cocaine and other drugs into the United States," in exchange for the bribes, the Department of Justice statement said.

Luna made millions of dollars by the time he relocated to the United States in 2012, according to records the government has obtained.

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The fourth count of making false statements is related to him submitting an application for naturalization in 2018, in which he allegedly lied about alleged criminal acts on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Prior to Luna's last two high-ranking positions in Mexican law enforcement, Luna had several years of experience in Mexico's security services, starting with Mexico's Center for National Security and Investigation in the late 1980s before he moved to the federal police in the late 1990s.

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When Luna was 38 years old, then-President Felipe Calderon, who had decided to aggressively wage war on drug trafficking, appointed him to his position as Mexico's secretary of public security.

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The new allegations "surprised" Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, who as a DEA attache to Mexico in the 1990s, worked with Luna.

"He really was the architect of Calderon's war on drugs," Vigil said. "We, DEA, had a very good working relationship with Genaro. At that time there were no allegations of corruption. There we coordinated investigations with them, and we never saw any evidence of compromise."

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