The arrest of former president Felipe Calderón’s security secretary in the United States last month is proof that convicted drug trafficker Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán had people working for him in the government, President López Obrador said on Thursday.
Asked at his morning press conference whether he had evidence to back up a claim he made in his new year’s message that there was a time in which Guzmán had the “same power or same influence” as the president because there was a “conspiracy” between him and the government, López Obrador said the proof was that Genaro García Luna is accused of links to the Sinaloa Cartel.
The former security chief, a key architect of the so-called war on drugs launched by Calderón, was detained in Dallas, Texas, on December 9 on charges that he allowed the cartel once headed by El Chapo to operate in exchange for multimillion-dollar bribes.
“That’s the only proof . . . He was in charge of security, Calderón’s right-hand [man],” López Obrador told reporters, adding that García also worked for former presidents Vicente Fox and Carlos Salinas.
“. . . He’s accused of protecting a criminal organization, that’s the proof! It still needs to be shown [in court] but the signs are there [that he’s guilty],” he said.
García has not entered a plea but is expected to go on trial in New York.
Declarations of assets filed by García between 2002 and 2008 when he was head of the now-defunct Federal Investigation Agency in Fox’s administration and then Calderon’s public security secretary showed that his wealth increased fivefold in the period and that he bought and sold several properties.
The United States indictment against the ex-official said that “financial records obtained by the [U.S.] government” showed that “by the time García Luna relocated to the United States in 2012, he had amassed a personal fortune of millions of dollars.”
The president questioned where that wealth could have come from if García wasn’t involved in criminal activities.
“Where did the houses and apartments come from,” López Obrador asked, adding that corruption in past governments was seen as something “normal.”
“That’s what I was referring to. We cannot allow crime to govern . . . It’s not that Guzmán Loera was here in the [National] Palace [or] in [the former presidential residence] Los Pinos but he had representatives in the government and that is extremely serious.”
The president also took the opportunity to launch a broadside at “conservatives,” a term he uses to describe members of past governments as well as critics of his administration, including journalists who write unflattering reports.
“Their true doctrine [is] hypocrisy. Don’t you remember what they said recently about the Sinaloa case?” López Obrador said referring to the government’s decision to release one of El Chapo’s sons after the Sinaloa Cartel reacted violently to the operation to capture him.
“[They said that] we faltered and that we should have used a heavy hand. What is a heavy hand? Dictatorship. And then it comes out that he who was in charge of security during a period of government was at the service of a criminal group and the conservatives kept quiet,” he said.
In Mexico, federal financial investigators are looking into the possible embezzlement of more than 4.8 billion pesos (US $250 million) in federal funds to companies with links to García.