Mexico’s president hopes convicted former security chief will turn informer

Genaro García Luna

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s president said Wednesday he hopes that the former Mexican security chief convicted this week in the U.S. of bribe-taking will cooperate with prosecutors there and perhaps implicate former Mexican presidents.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he hopes Genaro Garcia Luna will make a deal with prosecutors to reduce his sentence, in exchange for testifying about López Obrador’s predecessors.

The former top Mexican security official was convicted Tuesday of taking massive bribes to protect the violent drug cartels he was tasked with combating. Garcia Luna served in different security posts under former presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon between 2000 and 2012. Both are political enemies of López Obrador.

“I would say, as president of Mexico, for the good of the country, that hopefully he will do it,” López Obrador said, referring to a possible sentencing deal, “in exchange for informing about whether he received orders or gave information to the former presidents Fox and Calderon.”

López Obrador said he hoped Garcia Luna would also provide information about his relationship with U.S. authorities, who he said must have known about his corruption.

Genaro García Luna
Genaro García Luna attends a news conference in Mexico City, on Oct. 8, 2010. Marco Ugarte / AP file

“He even got prizes from U.S. authorities, it is not possible they didn’t know,” he said.

López Obrador welcomed the U.S. verdict on Garcia Luna, and depicted it as opportunity to root out corruption.

But López Obrador fought tooth and nail to avoid a U.S. trial of former defense secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos on similar charges in 2020, at one point threatening to kick DEA agents out of Mexico unless the general was returned, which he was. Cienfuegos was quickly freed once he returned.

And López Obrador railed against Mexican judges who ruled Tuesday against Mexican government efforts to freeze the accounts of Garcia Luna’s wife, Linda Pereyra Gálvez. The government blocked her accounts in 2019, when her husband was arrested in Texas.

However, judges later ruled the freezing of the accounts violated her rights.

“As we have been saying, the judicial branch in our country needs a profound reform,” López Obrador said.

The Mexican president has frequently sparred with the judiciary, because judges have often blocked his initiatives on constitutional grounds.

García Luna, 54, was convicted on charges that include engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. He faces at least 20 years and as much as life in prison at his sentencing, set for June 27.

García Luna, who denied the allegations, headed Mexico’s federal police and was later the country’s top public safety official from 2006 to 2012 in Calderon’s administration. His lawyers said the charges were based on lies from criminals who wanted to punish his drug-fighting efforts and to get sentencing breaks for themselves by helping prosecutors.

On Tuesday, Calderon said Garcia Luna’s conviction did not diminish his administration’s policy of fighting drug cartels.

“I never negotiated or agreed with criminals,” Calderon wrote in a statement.

Rubén Salazar, director of the Mexican political analysis firm Etellekt Consultores, said García Luna’s conviction has rocked Mexico’s political world by underlining the possibility that the U.S. justice system could open cases against high-profile Mexican politicians.

“The entire political class is trembling right now,” Salazar said. “It is not a trial against García Luna, but against Mexican narco-politics.”

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