DALLAS (AP) — A judge in Texas ordered Mexico’s former top security official to remain held without bond Tuesday as he awaits trial for allegedly accepting a fortune in drug-money bribes for letting the notorious Sinaloa cartel operate with impunity.
Genaro Garcia Luna, 51, was indicted on three counts of cocaine trafficking conspiracy and a false statements charge. He waived his right to a detention hearing in Dallas a week after the federal case against him was made public in New York City.
Magistrate Judge David Horan ordered Garcia Luna held in Texas until marshals could transfer him to New York, where Sinaloa kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was tried in 2018.
Garcia Luna wore shackles during his appearance in a courtroom crowded with federal agents and Spanish-language journalists. His lawyer, Rose Romero, declined to comment following the brief hearing.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents arrested him in North Texas last Monday.
During Guzman’s trial, a former cartel member testified that he personally paid Garcia Luna $6 million in bribes, secretly delivering him cash at a restaurant in Mexico between 2005 and 2007. Prosecutors have said other cooperating witnesses confirmed the Sinaloa cartel paid Garcia Luna tens of millions of dollars to clear the way for it to ship drugs to the U.S.
Garcia Luna lived in Florida before his arrest. From 2001 to 2005, he led Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency and from 2006 to 2012 served as Mexico’s secretary of public security before relocating to the U.S., authorities said.
The Mexican government has promised to cooperate with U.S. officials in Garcia Luna’s case. But it’s unclear what further action the former security chief’s indictment in New York will prompt in Mexico.
On Monday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said his country will not investigate people who allegedly worked with Garcia Luna to help Sinaloa. He advised them, however, to work with American law enforcement.
But Mexico’s current security secretary, Alfonso Durazo, said that García Luna could not have protected a cartel as big as Sinaloa alone. He said the administration is working on a “purging process” in the federal security forces.___
AP staff writer Maria Verza contributed reporting from Mexico City.