By RICARDO CASTILLO
Never mind that the Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán trial is raging full-speed ahead in a Brooklyn federal courthouse.
What local Mexican politicos are really concerned about is the defecation hitting the fan and spreading all over the face of a now-outcast police commander. And mind you, he’s reacting the same way that any normal honest citizen would.
, who according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), protected witness Jesús “El Rey” Zambada and received 56 million greenbacks in untraceable cash to protect Guzmán’s drug-smuggling operations from Mexico into the United States. In that period, it is now obvious, García Luna “controlled” the Mexico City airport drug surveillance and smuggled tons of cocaine into the white-as-powder United States.
García Luna, now in private protection, immediately protested against the accusations. To add insult to injury, Zambada was asked by a defense lawyer if that money might have trickled up to former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who served from 2006 to 2012.
Zambada answered in Spanish, an ambiguous “tal vez,” meaning “perhaps.”
Also, Zambada, in answering a query by “El Chapo’s” defense lawyer William Purpura, confirmed that he had met with then-newly appointed Public Security Secretary Genaro García Luna in 2006, who served under President Calderón, and handed García Luna, for starters, a briefcase containing about $5 million in cash. According to Zambada, García Luna tucked the briefcase under his desk of national police command. The money was to “protect” Sinaloa drug cartel operations and the source of the money was “El Chapo” Guzmán.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg in Zambada’s statements to the Brooklyn court.
Former Top Cop García Luna, however, cannot claim a clean record in his performance under President Calderón. His record includes allegations that he carried out the arrest and jailing of a group of kidnappers of wealthy people back in 2007, called “Los Zodiaco” (the Zodiac gang) led by Mario Vallarta, who is still in jail.
Vallarta’s girlfriend and French citizen Florence Cassez was arrested in a vacation safe-house near Cuernavaca. After the arrest, García Luna contracted television news company Noticieros Televisa to do a staged version of the arrest and the motions of the police were filmed. The news item ran as real on a Televisa news broadcast.
García Luna sent Vallarta and Cassez to jail, but that was not to be the end of the story. In France, suddenly Florence Cassez, convicted to 60 years for kidnapping for ransom charges, became a national issue of Mexican injustice. President Calderón stood behind the conviction.
Cassez, and definitely the French Embassy in Mexico City, filed an appeal on charges against Secretary García Luna of staging a false scenario of the arrest and definitely breaches of due process violations rights of defendant Florence Cassez.
The Cassez case definitely caused a rift between the Mexican and French governments. In fact, an arts festival due to be carried out throughout French provinces in 2013 had to be cancelled because of protests alleging that Madame Cassez was innocent. Finally, Mexico’s Supreme Court, primarily to pacify the rift, declared Cassez (guilty as sin, in the eyes of Mexican public opinion) had to be freed because Secretary García Luna breached her rights by filming a restaging of the real arrest procedures.
At the time when Cassez was freed, mud flung on García Luna’s very corrupt, according to journalists back in 2012, tenure as Public Security Secretary.
The real problem is now García Luna is being smeared with allegations of taking kickbacks from drugtrafficker “El Chapo” Guzmán. Incidentally, the precise amount of the alleged $56 million is significant enough that it cannot easily be hidden in a corner bank.
Definitely, García Luna would not be cast if he auditioned for a role to perform as Mr. Clean.
But did he really take the $56 million? Zambada says he did, and kicked some of that money upstarts to none other than President Calderón.
The name of current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has also come up in the trial, but now with the same charges as those made against García Luna.
García Luna’s response in just about every Mexican newscast that has hosted him has been to claim innocence.
But why defend yourself if you are innocent? The answer might be that García Luna is indeed a fat cat who forgot he’s got a long tail his victims might step on in a court of law.
But let’s get back to the orignal question: Did García Luna take the bribe money from Zambada?
It seems we were left with a cliffhanger this week as the trial was paused for the long U.S. holiday.
But hang in there, the trial we resume back on course when the Thanksgiving holiday is over.
For the mean time, García Luna is rampaging newscasts proclaiming his innocence.
No doubt about it, the “El Chapo” trial is on its way to reaffirm what every Mexican knows: Police corruption in Mexico starts at the top, namely the presidency.