The long-awaited trial for drug trafficking against Mexico’s former Secretary of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna, will begin this Tuesday in New York, after he was arrested by US authorities for allegedly collaborating with the powerful Sinaloa Cartel. Exactly three years later.
The process will begin with the selection of the jury, with interviews of dozens of potential candidates to integrate it after a preliminary screening carried out in recent days.
Once the jury is constituted, the prosecutor’s office and the defense will begin preliminary arguments on Garcia Luna, who faces a minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment if convicted.
The man who was head of public security during the government of Felipe Calderon (2006-2012) is accused of drug trafficking and accepting bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for facilitating the group’s operations.
The organization’s former leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, was sentenced to life in prison in 2019 by the same New York district court in Brooklyn that handles the Garcia Luna case.
Cooperation with the Sinaloa Cartel
Although allegations had been circulating for years about an alleged collaboration of the former Mexican minister with a drug-trafficking group, one of the key witnesses in the trial against “El Chapo” García Luna, Jesús “El Rey” Zambada, directly were involved.
“El Rey”, a former cartel official imprisoned in the United States, claimed to have paid millionaire bribes to García Luna when he was Secretary of Public Security and earlier, when he directed the now-defunct Federal Investigation Agency.
The US Attorney’s Office has assured that “the defendant used his official positions to help the Sinaloa Cartel” in exchange for “multi-million dollar bribes” and has advanced that it has abundant evidence.
lots of evidence and witnesses
The sheer volume of documents and other evidence collected by US authorities has lengthened the pre-trial process, in part to allow lawyers time to review these materials and prepare their defence.
Among the arguments that García Luna is expected to use, according to court documents in progress, is the fact that during his tenure he was recognized by the US for his fight against drug trafficking and that he has worked closely with that country’s authorities. Had several meetings with
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the former minister includes other senior officials during the trial or some of the witnesses who testify throughout the process may do so as well.
The prosecutor’s office has said it plans to call “several witnesses” to testify, although their identities have not been disclosed.
Last November, the judge in charge of the case, Brian Kogan, authorized the prosecutor’s office to notify the defense of the names of witnesses at the last minute, only three days before in a case considered insensitive and one day before a case considered sensitive.
According to the prosecutor’s office, identifying relevant witnesses could put their safety at risk. Jurors will also be guaranteed anonymity and security, according to the Cogan ruling last year, which “highlighted the dangerousness of defendants as demonstrated by the seriousness of the crimes with which they are charged.”
Unlike many other defendants in this type of proceeding, García Luna appeared as a civilian, in a suit and tie, and not with a normal prisoner’s uniform, as recently authorized by the judge in response to a defense request. Has gone, will attend the trial.