By RICARDO CASTILLO
Questions galore arose in Mexico regarding the arrest on Tuesday, Dec. 10, of the country’s former public security secretary from 2006 to 2012, Genaro García Luna, who served under President Felipe Calderón. Garcia Luna also was the Federal Investigations Agency (AFI) chief from 2001 to 2005, under President Vicente Fox.
García Luna was arrested in Grapevine, Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan complex by federal agents.
For now, the U.S. Attorney’s office representative Richard P. Donoghue is seeking to remove the indicted prisoner to the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn to face allegations of taking “millions in dollars” in bribes from notorious drug cartels to let drugs through to the United States, laundering money and lying in 2018 to U.S. Immigration Department officers to get a legal residence green card.
That’s just for starters since cooperating in the investigation to the AG came from a series of government offices, such as the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The Strike Force is based at the DEA’s New York Division and includes agents and officers of the DEA, NYPD, NYSP, HSI, U.S. Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, United States Marshals Service, New York National Guard, Clarkstown Police Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Washington Police Department and New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
In short, once the courtroom heat gets underway, the government attorneys are going to throw the book at García Luna, who has not yet pleaded either innocent or guilty.
On Mexican television, there were several anchormen – all alleged by some to be possible recipients of García Luna’s payola payroll – who said that they were astounded. How could such a nice guy be nabbed? One of them, Ciro Gómez Leyva of Imagen Television, resorted to the Excelsior photo files to show the now-arrested former top cop with people such as Hillary Clinton, when she was secretary of State as the best picture. According to the anchorman, the arrest made no sense.
Most astounded was former President Calderón, since the arrest came perhaps as a lethal blow to his political intentions to build up a new party to launch the candidacy of his wife Margarita Zavala since both have broken with their alma mater National Action Party (PAN.)
Another issue that arose regarding the García Luna arrest is that it came exactly the same day as the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) protocol at the National Palace and the announcement that the revised accord will be voted on at the U.S. House of Representatives, perhaps as early as next Tuesday, Dec. 17. A related question is: Was the arrest part of the agenda of U.S. Attorney General William Barr when he met on a one to one basis with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador? Was Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) unofficially notified?
Excelsior columnist Jorge Fernández Menendez, who has followed García Luna’s career through his 11 years as top cop, claims the arrest is “profoundly disconcerting” given the fact that the former security secretary had close links with many international security agencies – including the U.S. Attorney General’s Office – and had been awarded enough medals honoring his police work to fill his chest twice.
In going after the bad guys, “all cartels received hard blows during the García Luna mandate,” including accusers Jesús Zambada and Edgar Valdéz, best known as “the Barbie doll.” They were both captured and incarcerated.
“The fact that they are his accusers simply takes legitimacy away from their claims, even though there seems to be no more documental proof other than their claim,” wrote Fernández.
There are more of these types of defenses of García Luna, but they all run along the same line.
The arguments forced current Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo to make a statement on the arrest of the man who filled the post he now wields.
Durazo wrote in his Twitter account that there are those who still defend the “war on drugs” initiated by Calderón, but that the job of dismantling the corruption networks between government officials and drug runners was the main cause of bringing “so much damage to Mexico.” In short, guilty as sin.
What about some alleged criminals García Luna did put in jail? Over the past few days, we’ve been hearing from alleged kidnapper Israel Vallarta, with 13 years in a high security prison and no trial. His arrest, and that of his girl fried, Florence Cassez, were staged by García Luna in 2007 to his liking and aired on paid time on Televisa by Carlos Loret de Mola, then in his heyday as a news anchor. Critics labeled the newscast under the aegis of García Luna Productions. Cassez, by the way, was released under French government pressure and is now free in France.
There are more reactions in Mexico on the García Luna arrest. Not only is it big news because the accused is the highest Mexican government official ever indicted in the United States, but also because of the political scandal it may bring about once the case goes to court.
Tremble, tremble, tremble, corrupt Mexican officials.