MEXICO CITY (HPD) — Mexico is working on legal actions to try to recover at least $700 million from former Security Secretary Genaro García Luna, accused of receiving million-dollar bribes to protect the Sinaloa Cartel and whose trial has just begun in New York.
“What we are going to try is to collect the money,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador explained on Tuesday.
Recovering what could be considered funds stolen from the State by corrupt officials is one of the government’s objectives and the money that García Luna could have benefited from for collaborating with organized crime, according to US prosecutors, could add up to multimillion-dollar figures.
García Luna was the head of public security in Mexico from 2006 to 2012 during the presidency of Felipe Calderón but before, during the mandate of Vicente Fox (2000-2006), he directed a federal police force.
On the first day of the trial, a former police officer who later joined the Sinaloa Cartel, Sergio Villarreal Barragán, known as “El Grande”, spoke of joint operations by the cartel and the police against antagonistic criminal groups; how the former official warned of raids or that one day he took 14 million dollars in cardboard boxes from a warehouse full of cocaine that the police had seized from the Gulf Cartel and delivered to the Sinaloa group.
As López Obrador explained, there is already a legal process in Florida to obtain some 700 million dollars.
The Secretary of Foreign Relations, Marcelo Ebrard, explained in a press conference from Argentina that it is a “civil claim for damages against 39 companies and trusts belonging to or in which García Luna or his relatives participated.”
The lawsuit was filed on September 21, 2021 in Miami by the Financial Intelligence Unit of Mexico, the department in charge of investigating money laundering and which estimated that the approximate amount to be claimed for public contracts linked to said companies was about 700 million dollars, added the chancellor.
According to what was said at the time by the head of the unit, Santiago Nieto, said assets came from “a large illegal contracting scheme in the national security and defense sector” that was related to García Luna.
The former official’s lawyers stated “that Mexico had no reason to go there to litigate,” López Obrador said, but added that a Florida court agreed with the Mexican government “and we are working on that, 700 million and other possible assets ”.
Mexico has an open investigation against the former secretary of which he reported when he was arrested in the United States in 2019, but no details about it have been made public.
López Obrador also announced that starting Tuesday his daily morning conference will have a new space to report on everything that comes out in the trial because he does not trust the traditional Mexican media and wants all the possible accomplices mentioned to be exposed to the public.
It is “a judicial drama”, a “tragicomedy”, he said. “We don’t want people not to find out.”
García Luna’s trial has broad implications since he was not only President Calderón’s right-hand man in the war against the cartels, but also the main ally of the United States in the fight against drug trafficking, praised and awarded by authorities in that country.
López Obrador has used the case to attack previous presidencies, arguing that because of their corruption, criminal groups increased their power and, therefore, violence. But he has also used it to criticize Washington’s interference in the fight against drug trafficking in Mexico.