Former Mexican official pleads not guilty to taking bribes from El Chapo’s cartel

Mexico’s former security chief was hauled before a judge in a Brooklyn Friday on charges that he took millions of dollars in bribes from Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel to help it sidestep law enforcement and gain a leg up over other drug-trafficking outfits.

Genaro Garcia Luna, 51, pleaded not guilty to charges of international cocaine trafficking conspiracy and making false statements.

He did not offer up a bail package at his arraignment in Brooklyn federal court, so he will remain behind bars for now.

The disgraced bureaucrat was arrested last month in Dallas and was shipped to New York on Thursday.

“He permitted that cartel, which is on of the most violent criminal enterprises in the world, to operate with impunity,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Reid said to Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo during the arraignment.

Garcia Luna — who appeared in court wearing a gray sweatshirt and khaki-colored pants — repeatedly looked to his wife and adult children seated in the gallery for the hearing.

As he was escorted from the courtroom, he looked at his family and thumped his chest with his fist. His children raised their fists in reply.

Garcia Luna led Mexico’s Federal Investigation Agency from 2001 to 2005. In 2006, he was named the secretary of public security, which put him in charge of the country’s sprawling federal police force, a position he held until 2012.

Jesus “Rey” Zambada, one of the former leaders of the cartel, testified in November 2018 during Guzman’s four-month trial that he and another member of the outfit personally delivered bribes to Garcia Luna during his tenure.

Zambada said that on at least two occasions, he dropped off briefcases to Garcia Luna stuffed with between $3 million and $5 million in cash.

In exchange, Garcia Luna gave intel on rival drug traffickers and government investigations into the Sinaloa cartel, law enforcement officials allege.

Garcia Luna denied any wrongdoing in a statement issued after Zambada’s testimony.

After leaving the Mexican government, Garcia Luna left Mexico and moved to Miami. By that time, he had “amassed a personal fortune of millions of dollars that was inconsistent with a civil servant’s salary in Mexico,” the feds allege.

Garcia Luna faces 10 years to life in prison if he is convicted on the charges. He is due back in court on Jan. 21.

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