A courtroom sketch of Jesús “El Rey” Zambada during his Feb. 14 testimony in Brooklyn, New York. Photo: Jane Rosenberg


As the trial of Mexico’s disgraced former Secretary of Public Security Genaro García Luna drew to a close with the final testimony of one-time Sinaloa cartel big shot Jesús Reynaldo “El Rey” Zambada García on Tuesday, Feb. 14, Zambada’s final words in court levied yet another allegation of corruption against the Mexican government – this time, against officials under Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) during his time as the mayor of Mexico City.

According to Zambada, the Sinaloa cartel provided financial bribes to former Mexico City Undersecretary of Public Security Gabriel Regino, who held his position under López Obrador’s mayorship, for an unspecified campaign dated somewhere between 2003 and 2006.

While García Luna’s lawyer César de Castro attempted to corner Zambada into specifying the quantity, sums and destinations of the funds allegedly given by the cartel to the Mexico City government, de Castro’s imprecise line of questioning surrounding a purported $7 million given by Zambada to the López Obrador campaign – which de Castro mistakenly alleged to be during a electoral race against Vicente Fox at the time, an electoral battle that never occurred – ultimately led to the matter being dropped from the courtroom discussion.

Speaking from Mexico, Regino discussed his name being brought up at the García Luna trial, saying he was named as part of the defense’s strategy “because we are in a political context where it is intended to link other personalities, that’s how politics is, that’s how the criminal process is.” 

Meanwhile, the veracity of Zambada’s testimony against García Luna was brought into question as the former Sinaloa cartel member began contradicting his own statements on the amount of bribes given to the former public security secretary, a confusion that Zambada claimed was due to fear over García Luna’s power and potential retribution.

Though the testimony presented by Zambada was not backed up by physical or documented evidence, the prosecution’s final question to Zambada posed if the cartel-member-turned-U.S.-witness had any doubts about paying bribes to García Luna, to which he replied: “Of course not, I’m sure.”

The proceedings on Wednesday, Feb. 15, saw the prosecution and defense rest their cases, with the jury’s verdict on García Luna’s alleged criminal activity anticipated to be delivered as early as Friday, Feb. 17.

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