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The backstory: Genaro García Luna, the former security minister of Mexico, once worked with US intelligence agencies to take down drug cartels. After leaving his post and settling in Miami in 2012, he started his own private security firm with a focus on Mexican affairs.
But get this– he's accused of having connections with drug trafficking by accepting bribes and leaking information to the Sinaloa drug cartel, tipping them off about law enforcement operations.
More recently: Back in 2019, he was arrested for his suspected ties to the Sinaloa drug cartel, which first surfaced during the trial of drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. Apparently, he received millions of dollars in payments from the cartel. Nine cooperating witnesses, most of whom were convicted cartel members, backed up these accusations. But García Luna refused to testify during the trial.
The development: Now, García Luna has been found guilty of taking massive bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel, including protecting them from getting caught, helping them smuggle their cocaine and giving them intel on law enforcement. He faces at least 20 years and possibly up to life in prison.
It's worth noting that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's spokesperson supported the verdict and criticized former President Felipe Calderón, who was in office during García Luna's time as minister.
"These leaders paid the defendant bribes for protection – and they got what they paid for," said prosecutor Saritha Komatireddy in her closing argument, referring to Garcia Luna's critical role in assisting the cartel in shipping drugs.
"García Luna, who once stood at the pinnacle of law enforcement in Mexico, will now live the rest of his days having been revealed as a traitor to his country and to the honest members of law enforcement who risked their lives to dismantle drug cartels," said Breon Peace, a Brooklyn-based US Attorney.
"This could encourage prosecutors to go after other cases," said Ioan Grillo, a Mexico-based British author and expert on Mexico's criminal underworld, to BBC. "They took a certain risk by not having physical evidence and convicting him on testimony from drug traffickers."