A former Federal Police commander considered the right-hand man of imprisoned ex-security minister Genaro García Luna was arrested in México state on Monday on charges of torturing kidnapping suspects in 2012, federal authorities said.
The federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) said Luis Cárdenas Palominio was arrested early Monday at a property in Naucalpan, a México state municipality that borders Mexico City. The navy supported an FGR operation to execute an arrest warrant against the suspect.
Cárdenas, who served as a high-ranking law enforcement official during several federal governments, is linked to “probable acts of torture that occurred in 2012 against alleged kidnappers,” the FGR said.
He was transferred to México state’s Altiplano maximum security prison on Monday afternoon.
Cárdenas has also been accused by United States prosecutors of accepting multi-million-dollar bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel.
García Luna was detained in Texas in December 2019 on charges he allowed the Sinaloa Cartel to operate in exchange for large bribes. Former president Felipe Calderón’s security minister has denied the allegations and is awaiting trial in New York.
It was unclear whether federal authorities would consider extraditing Cárdenas – a regional security chief for the Federal Police during the 2006-2012 Calderón administration – to the United States.
President López Obrador said Monday that he didn’t know whether extradition would occur. He said the former official’s arrest was evidence that corruption and impunity is no longer tolerated in Mexico.
“He was detained because there is no longer impunity, and that helps a lot,” López Obrador said.
The president, who pointed to widespread corruption and abuses in the Federal Police as a significant factor in his decision to disband the force in 2019, has said previously that evidence against García Luna revealed by U.S. authorities showed that Mexico was a narco-state during Calderón’s 2006-12 administration.
Cárdenas was perhaps best known by many Mexicans for his involvement in a staged, televised arrest in 2005 of two kidnapping suspects who had actually been detained the day before.
Prior to his arrest, he was apparently living a comfortable life in Paseo del Bosque, an upper middle class residential estate in Naucalpan. He grew a beard in an apparent attempt to conceal his identity but had not gone into hiding, as federal authorities had suspected.
“He liked cars, I saw him in a Porsche; a car like that doesn’t attract attention here in the estate because there are several. … He said hello when we saw each other and was friendly. … We didn’t know who he was until we saw his photo [in the media] this morning,” one resident told the newspaper Reforma.
“It seemed that his life was normal. He used to go out in a SUV with a woman I believe was his wife and a few kids. He had a very big dog, almost the size of a St. Bernard. Sometimes they arrived with supermarket bags and once we saw him and his family leave with suitcases, I think they were going on vacation. He didn’t bother anyone and no one bothered him.”