Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Ex-security chief in negotiations to change not-guilty plea

Former federal security secretary Genaro García Luna has entered into negotiations with the United States government to change his not guilty plea on charges of drug trafficking conspiracy and making a false declaration to U.S. immigration.

Papers filed on Monday in a federal court said the defendant and the United States government are “engaged in plea negotiations, which they believe are likely to result in a disposition of this case without trial.”

García, security chief between 2006 and 2012 in the government of former president Felipe Calderón, pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges that he allowed the Sinaloa Cartel to operate in exchange for multimillion-dollar bribes and that he lied to United States authorities about his past criminal activity when applying for U.S. citizenship in 2018.

By changing his plea to guilty and cooperating with U.S. authorities to provide them with information, the 51-year-old former official, who was arrested in Dallas, Texas, in December, will likely spend less time behind bars than if he were convicted at trial.

García’s lawyers are expected to file an application for him to be released on bail but U.S. prosecutors have indicated that they would oppose any such request because the former official’s wealth and alleged cartel links make him an extremely high flight risk.

According to the U.S. indictment unsealed last month, Sinaloa Cartel bagmen personally delivered payments on two occasions to García using briefcases that contained between US $3 million and $5 million.

The allegations first surfaced in November 2018 at the trial of drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán when former Sinaloa Cartel operations chief Jesús Zambada said that he gave García US $6 million in the mid-2000s.

García allegedly provided the cartel with security that allowed it to move cocaine to the northern border and supplied confidential information about government investigations and other criminal organizations.

Former president Calderón has denied any knowledge of the ex-secretary’s alleged criminal complicity.

President López Obrador said last week that the arrest of García was proof that “El Chapo” had people working for him in the Calderón government but he has indicated that his government won’t launch an investigation into the ex-president “because it would create the perception that we’re doing it for political purposes.”

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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