Mexico’s former top security official, who was in charge of fighting the drug cartels, goes on trial Tuesday on charges he accepted millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for helping the powerful Sinaloa Cartel move drugs and its members avoid capture, the Associated Press reports. Genaro García Luna was best known as the mumbling, tough-looking former security secretary under ex-President Felipe Calderón who headed the bloody war on cartels between 2006 and 2012. U.S. prosecutors allege he was so brazen he accepted tens of millions of dollars, often stuffed in briefcases. The evidence includes pay stubs, though whether they were from official jobs, private sector consultancy, cartel payments or other bribes is unclear.
They say he continued to live off ill-gotten proceeds even after he moved to the U.S., where he was arrested in 2019. His defense says he was a legitimate businessman. Jury selection was scheduled to begin Tuesday. The case could reveal the inner workings of how Mexican cartels have been able to operate so openly for so long: by bribing Mexican police and military right up to the top ranks. “For decades, Mexico’s political elite, of all parties, has sought by any means to have security ministers, generals, police commanders, interior secretaries and high-ranking officials tried and imprisoned in Mexico … all that to avoid them giving information on the ties between the drug cartels and politicians,” said Mexican security analyst David Saucedo. “Garcia Luna’s trial in the United States breaks with that pattern.” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has welcomed the trial expected to cast light on corruption in the administration of Calderón, who the president accuses of having robbed him of the presidency in 2006.