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López Obrador signals deal if convicted top cop implicates Calderon, Fox and U.S. in drug conspiracies

Former conservative Presidents Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox have denied any collaboration with Mexican drug cartels despite López Obrador’s suggestions

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes oath as Mexico's new president during the 65th Mexican presidential inauguration, Dec. 1, 2018 In Mexico City
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes oath as Mexico's new president during the 65th Mexican presidential inauguration, Dec. 1, 2018 In Mexico City | Shutterstock

February 26, 2023 9:35am

Updated: February 26, 2023 9:43am

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said this week he hopes the government’s former top cop will implicate the country’s past conservative presidents for engaging in a criminal conspiracy with the country’s drug cartels and U.S. law enforcement apparatus, despite his recent conviction stemming from a massive corruption case brought by New York federal prosecutors.

Genaro Garcia Luna, the country’s former Secretary of Public Safety was convicted in the U.S. by federal prosecutors of accepting bribes to cooperate with Mexican cartel operators.

López Obrador has tried to shift the investigation into a political witch-hunt against past rivals by shining a light on former conservative Presidents Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox whom Garcia Luna worked with during his lengthy tenure in the Mexican government.

To elicit such testimony, López Obrador has suggested that Garcia Luna could lighten his sentence in exchange for information, but the current president’s interests seem more focused on what the former security chief knows about his political rivals than actual cartel operations.

Luna Garcia was convicted Tuesday of accepting significant bribes to shield Mexican drug cartels from the very law enforcement apparatus he directed.

The former top cop served in different security positions under past Presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon between 2000 and 2012, two conservative political opponents of leftist López Obrador.

“I would say, as president of Mexico, for the good of the country, that hopefully he will do it in exchange for informing about whether he received orders or gave information to the former presidents Fox and Calderon,” López Obrador said of a possible sentence reduction in exchange for implicating the past conservative presidents.

But López Obrador did not stop there.

The Mexican president also said he believes García Luna may harbor information that could reveal the United States government was complicit in the past conservative presidents’ purported corruption, despite the fact the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged and convicted the former public safety secretary.

López Obrador made these comments while also commending U.S. federal prosecutors for their diligent work in securing García Luna’s conviction.

“He even got prizes from U.S. authorities, it is not possible they didn’t know,” he said. In another recent statement, López Obrador went even further.

“I think the U.S. government should, now that the investigation has started, get to the bottom of this and also investigate officials from the DEA, the CIA and the FBI who were involved at the time, because there was without doubt cooperation, they worked together,” the Mexican president said.

While López Obrador supported the trial of García Luna, he struggled to avert U.S. federal prosecutors from trying former defense secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos in 2020.

The Mexican president was so averse to U.S. intervention in that instance he actually threatened to expel Drug Enforcement Agents from Mexico unless the general was repatriated to his homeland.

Once Cienfuegos was returned to Mexico he was immediately freed and released from further prosecution.

López Obrador has not hesitated to weaponize his executive influence to try and pressure judges within the judicial branch when they have ruled inconsistently with his policies.  

On Tuesday he spoke publicly against members of the Mexican judiciary who thawed bank accounts associated with García Luna’s wife, Linda Pereyra Gálvez. Those accounts were originally frozen in 2019 when her spouse was first detained in Texas, but the court later ruled that move was unconstitutional.

“As we have been saying, the judicial branch in our country needs a profound reform,” López Obrador said.

Pereyra Gálvez will most likely not be reunited with her 54-year old husband whose conviction of participating in a continuing criminal enterprise gives him a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years to life.

As part of their case against him, EDNY said that other witnesses also corroborated that they had paid García Luna tens of millions of dollars to enable the Sinaloa cartel to safely transport tons of cocaine into the U.S.

García Luna has denied the allegations and his legal team has portrayed him in a much different light, saying that most of the witness testimony came from cartel drug lords who sought revenge against him for being a tough cop during Calderon’s administration, 2006-2012.

For his part, former President Calderon has denied any collaboration with the drug cartels and reasserted his commitment to eradicating such violence in Mexico.

“I never negotiated or agreed with criminals,” Calderon wrote in a statement.

Rubén Salazar, a top political analyst with the Etellekt Consultores firm said García Luna’s conviction was a watershed moment that marked a new chapter in which the U.S. is pursuing charges against Mexican officials.

“The entire political class is trembling right now,” Salazar said. “It is not a trial against García Luna, but against Mexican narco-politics.”

U.S. prosecutions may continue since there seems to be a perception within Washington’s law enforcement system that López Obrador does not want to cooperate in collaborative efforts against the cartels.

In 2008, the U.S. launched the Merida Initiative, and distributed $1.6 billion to help the Mexican government help fight the cartels. 

In 2019, López Obrador rebuked the U.S. offer for help and said he wanted money for infrastructure instead. 

“[We] don’t want aid for the use of force, we want aid for development,” he explained, insisting that the country had resources to train its own members of the Mexican National Guard. 

That same year, García Luna was detained by federal prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York, which is located in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

Executive Editor

Gelet Martínez Fragela

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America. She is a Cuban journalist, television producer, and political refugee who also founded ADN Cuba.