Mexico wants $700 million from ex-security official on trial

Crime

NEW YORK (NewsNation) — The trial against former Mexican security official Genaro García Luna resumed Wednesday in New York.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Monday that his government wants to recover $700 million that García Luna allegedly accumulated as a result of corruption.

Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico has filed a lawsuit in Florida, where García Luna lived after leaving Mexico.

Formerly the country’s top security officer, García Luna is accused of accepting briefcases full of cash — millions of dollars, in all — to let the notorious Sinaloa cartel operate with impunity as it sent tons of cocaine to the U.S.

Prosecutors said Luna helped the cartel smuggle more than 50 tons of cocaine into the U.S.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors were expected to continue to call former Sinaloa Cartel members to testify against García Luna on Wednesday.

The first person to testify for the prosecution was former cartel member Sergio Villareal Barragan, also known as “El Grande.” He was a police officer in Mexico before the cartel.

Villareal Barragan claims he was in the room on several occasions when García Luna received more than $200 million in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel. He also said García Luna gave them information about both police operations against the cartel members and rival cartels.

Villareal Barragan was arrested in Mexico in 2010 on drug trafficking and murder charges. He was extradited to the U.S. in 2012 and released in 2019 after reportedly striking a deal to testify against the cartel and corruption within the federal government.

Under cross-examination, defense attorneys called Villareal Barragan a killer and a liar who can’t be trusted.

Tirso Martinez Sanchez, another cartel member, also testified Tuesday. He was in charge of smuggling drugs into Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City; however, the judge said much of his testimony was irrelevant.

García Luna served as secretary of public security to then-President Felipe Calderon from 2006 to 2012. His lawyers say he was a legitimate businessman who did consulting in Florida before he was arrested in 2019.

López Obrador has long complained that when corrupt politicians and drug traffickers are convicted in the United States, the U.S. seizes and keeps their fortunes, which were often largely made in Mexico.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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