Thursday, June 20, 2024

Former security minister pleads not guilty to revised US drug charges

The former minister of security who was arrested last December in the United States on drug-related charges has pleaded not guilty to revised charges.

Genaro García Luna, minister of public security under president Felipe Calderón, entered not guilty pleas to revised counts that include engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise in violation of narcotics laws, international conspiracy to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute, conspiracy to import cocaine and perjury of authority.

“Specifically, it is alleged that he committed six offenses, that he committed them with five or more people, that he supervised or managed those five people, and that he obtained substantial profits,” explained Judge Brian Cogan in a rather chaotic virtual hearing which had to be temporarily suspended.

Members of the Mexican media who were listening in on the proceedings remotely were either unable or unwilling to put their phones on mute and the judge was interrupted by all manner of cross chatter, coughing, music and even obscenities. 

“I have repeatedly asked the Mexican press to stop talking on this call,” Judge Cogan said. “If I cannot continue, I will stop this call and schedule (the hearing) for later,” threatened the judge, before pausing the proceedings for 10 minutes

García’s next hearing is set for December 7, when a trial date could be announced.

“As alleged, for nearly two decades García Luna betrayed those he was sworn to protect by accepting bribes from members of the Sinaloa Cartel to facilitate their crimes and empower their criminal enterprise,” said Seth D. DuCharme, acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, when the indictment was issued. “García Luna and his co-conspirators will face justice for offenses involving the importation and the distribution of massive quantities of dangerous drugs into the United States.”

If convicted of the newly added continuing criminal enterprise charge, García faces 20 years to life. He pleaded not guilty to three original counts of cocaine trafficking conspiracy and a false declaration charge in January.

García is being held without bail in a Brooklyn jail after his December 2019 arrest in Dallas, Texas, accused of having ties to the Sinaloa Cartel and its leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, to which he allegedly provided protection and from which he received millions of dollars in cash between 2006 and 2012.

Between now and December, García Luna and his attorney will review 189,000 pages of evidence as well as intercepted communications and digital files as they prepare for trial, although a last-minute plea deal is still a possibility.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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