Former Secretary of Public Security Genaro García Luna. Photo: Google


U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday, Jan. 25, continued their interrogation of drug trafficker Tirso Martínez Sánchez, alias “El Futbolista,” on the third day of former Secretary of Public Security Genaro García Luna’s trial for alleged drug trafficking. The testimony of Martínez Sánchez on Monday, Jan. 23, however, was excluded by presiding judge Brian Cogan, who labeled the statements as “rumors” and “a waste of time.”

Martínez Sánchez, a cooperating witness for the prosecution who has already served a reduced sentence in the United States, said on Monday that he was responsible for sending cocaine to the United States from Mexico, and alleged that two other members of the Sinaloa Cartel, who Martínez Sánchez only identified by their first names — Jorge and Anselmo — had offered to broker a deal with García Luna to guarantee the safety of the drug shipments to, namely, three U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

“Given that we do not know the full names of Jorge or Anselmo, or if these are their real names, the court will not allow the jury to hear what amounts to a rumor of the defendant’s guilt,” Cogan said.

Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office changed the focus of their questions after the judge’s decision, and asked  Martínez Sánchez about his general knowledge of whether federal, military, judicial and municipal police were bribed by the Sinaloa Cartel. Martínez Sánchez answered that on two occasions, when he was concerned about possible seizures of his cocaine shipment, two members of the cartel assured him that all the law-enforcement agencies “have already been bought.”

García Luna’s lawyers have focused their defense on the prosecution relying on “subjective evidence” such as videos, photographs, documents or recordings and that they have built the case on “rumors” and “statements from criminals and murderers who have agreed to testify in exchange for reduced time in prison.”

Two major issues that have been put on the spotlight as the case unfolds, especially in the relationship between the United States and Mexico, are border security and drug trafficking.

But according to former Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) Ignacio Morales Lechuga, in an interview with CNN Mexico, the case against García Luna does not call into question the cooperation between the two countries in terms of security. What he believes will happen, though, is the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) leveraging the case to point a finger at previous administrations.

“Not in both countries, no. There is no issue on security. But for a highly politicized government alone, like Mexico’s, the current government will surely take advantage of the repercussions of this case to blame previous administrations,” said Morales Lechuga.

Former director of the now-defunct Center for Research and National Security (Cisen) Guillermo Valdés, for his part, said in the same CNN interview that alleged acts of corruption against García Luna have so far been hard to prove, even when the former secretary of public security was still in office.

“We had counterintelligence, for example, in the case of alleged corruption by the public security secretary — an investigation was carried out. Some issues of corruption of security officials were found, but Genaro could never be linked to those acts of corruption,” said Valdés. “There was nothing that could positively link him to El Chapo.”

In responding to the request of García Luna’s defense team to exclude Martínez Sánchez’s testimony on Monday, Cogan ruled that the testimony dates from 1993 or 1994 and 2000 “or possibly 2001” and could not be admitted. It should be noted that García Luna is accused of crimes allegedly committed between 2001 and 2012.

Martínez Sánchez, a witness for the Attorney General’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, is a convicted drug trafficker who was part of the Sinaloa cartel and testified in the trial against Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán in 2018. He was arrested in 2014 and extradited to the United States in 2015.

He pleaded guilty to distributing drugs with the intent to import and was sentenced in 2020 to 84 months in prison in a Brooklyn federal court.

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