US jury convicts Mexico ex-minister Garcia Luna of drug trafficking
Mexico's once-powerful former public security minister Genaro Garcia Luna was found guilty of US drug trafficking charges by a jury in New York on Tuesday following a high-profile trial.
Garcia Luna -- who was accused of receiving vast sums of money to allow the notorious Sinaloa cartel to smuggle tons of cocaine -- was convicted on all five counts.
The month-long trial shone a spotlight on the alleged corruption of the highest ranking Mexican government figure ever to face trial in the United States.
It also opened a window on the vast resources of the Sinaloa Cartel under Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who is now serving a life sentence in a US penitentiary.
Prosecutors had argued that Garcia Luna, who held high-ranking security positions in Mexico from 2001 until 2012, was the cartel's "partner in crime."
That included during his time as the architect of then-president Felipe Calderon's crackdown on Mexico's drug gangs between 2006 and 2012.
But instead of stopping the smuggling, Garcia Luna took millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa to allow safe passage of narcotics shipments.
US government attorneys said he tipped off traffickers about law enforcement operations, targeted rival cartel members for arrest and placed other corrupt officials in positions of power.
The five charges, which range from cocaine trafficking conspiracy to making false statements, carry terms of between 10 years and a life term in US prison.
Nine of the 26 witnesses who testified against Garcia Luna are accused drug traffickers extradited from Mexico and collaborating with US prosecutors in exchange for possible leniency in their own trials.
They included former several high-level cartel bosses, including Jesus "Rey" Zambada, Sergio Villarreal and Oscar "Lobo" Valencia.
They claimed to have paid millions of dollars to Garcia Luna collectively, and through Arturo Beltran Leyva, who ran his own drug cartel and served as a go-between with Garcia Luna, known as a "supercop," in exchange for protection.
Garcia Luna, a 54-year-old mechanical engineer, declined to testify on his own behalf.