Mexico’s former public security secretary has been arrested in the United States and charged in a drug trafficking conspiracy that involved taking millions of dollars in bribes from imprisoned drug cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Genaro Garcia Luna, 51, who was secretary of public security from 2006 to 2012, was arrested Monday by federal agents in Dallas, Texas.
He appeared in federal court there later Tuesday, according to a statement from US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard P. Donoghue. A detention hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday.
An indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charges the former Mexican official with three counts of cocaine trafficking conspiracy and one count of making false statements, the statement said.
“Garcia Luna stands accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel while he controlled Mexico’s Federal Police Force and was responsible for ensuring public safety in Mexico,” Donoghue said in the statement.
CNN has sought comment via email and telephone call from Garcia Luna’s attorney.
Federal prosecutors said they will seek Garcia Luna’s removal to New York to face the charges.
From 2001 to 2012, while occupying ranking law enforcement positions in the Mexican government, Garcia Luna received millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel, the indictment said.
His responsibilities included stints as head of Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency and as secretary of public security, which runs the federal police, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors said the bribes guaranteed the criminal organization “safe passage for its drug shipments, sensitive law enforcement information about investigations into the Cartel, and information about rival drug cartels, thereby facilitating the importation of multi-ton quantities of cocaine and other drugs into the United States.”
At El Chapo’s Guzman’s trial in Brooklyn earlier this year, a former cartel leader testified about multimillion-dollar bribes that he and others paid Garcia Luna in the mid-2000s, according to court documents.
Former cartel leader Rey Zambada, the brother of its current boss, testified at Guzman’s trial that on at least two occasions he personally gave Garcia Luna briefcases with between $3 million and $5 million so that he would assist the Sinaloa Cartel, the documents said.
Guzman was sentenced in July to life in prison plus 30 years.
Garcia Luna moved to US in 2012 and settled in Florida with a personal fortune of millions of dollars, according to prosecutors. He allegedly submitted an application for naturalization in 2018 and lied about his past criminal acts.
If convicted of the drug conspiracy charge, Garcia Luna faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment.