“We had a close relationship”: Mike Vigil, former DEA agent, recalled collaborations with García Luna

(Reuters/Jane Rosenberg)
(Reuters/Jane Rosenberg)

“We had a close relationship with him on the issues of crime and drug trafficking”recalled Mike Vigil, a veteran DEA agent assigned since the 1970s to Mexico, where he returned on mission during the 1990s.

The statement came as Mexico once again grapples with the turbidities of its drug war with the US trial of its former police chief, Genaro Garcia Lunaprocessed by cocaine trafficking and complicity with the Sinaloa Cartel.

The trial of the former Minister of Security (2006-2012) has gone to the heart of the matter since the first hearings, carried out before the same New York court that sentenced “El Chapo” to life imprisonment in 2019 for drug trafficking.

The first hot testimonial came on Tuesday when Sergio Villarreal Barraganformer operator of the Beltrán Leyva cartel, detailed the modus operandi of the alleged monthly payments delivered to García Luna by the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for his protection and information.

There is no proof, the defense repliedwhich will seek to discredit the testimonies of former traffickers protected by the United States such as Villarreal, nicknamed “El Grande”.

In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has promised a daily report on the process and has questioned local media coverage.


The president also reported that Mexico is trying to recover in a US court some 700 million dollars allegedly embezzled by García Luna.

Already as a former minister and at the head of private companies, he benefited from important state contracts during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), according to independent journalist Francisco Cruz, author of a biography of the accused.

The lawsuit was filed on September 21, 2021 in Florida against 39 companies belonging to García Luna or his relatives, explained Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.

López Obrador has put forward “three hypotheses”: that García Luna “is not guilty” and “they have to release him.” “It would be a fiasco, especially the agencies and the government of the United States would look very bad“, said.

The second is that he acted alone and the third, that he had “the license” from Presidents Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Vicente Fox (2000-2006) with whom he worked.

López Obrador intends to embody a break with his predecessors “conservatives”.

In August 2021, he organized a referendum to ask Mexicans if they supported prosecuting five former presidents for alleged crimes. 90% said yes, although the participating population reached only 8%.

(REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)
(REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)

Arrested in December 2019 in Dallas, Texas, García Luna, 54, was a direct interlocutor with Washington when he was President Calderón’s security czar.

A photograph shows him sharing smiles with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009, at the height of the “Mérida Initiative”, launched by both countries to combat cross-border organized crime.

Police chief, the former secret agent was then the armed wing of the total war against drug traffickers launched by Calderón in December 2006.

At that time, the so-calledsupercop“He had already been monetizing his influence with El Chapo” Guzmán for several years, accused the US Department of Justice in 2020.

“From 2001 to 2012 (…) García Luna received millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for providing protection for his drug trafficking activity”, alleges said agency.

Before becoming a minister, this trained engineer headed the now-defunct Federal Investigation Agency (AFI), a branch of the former federal prosecutor’s office.

(AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)
(AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

In that role, he oversaw the December 2005 arrest of Frenchwoman Florence Cassez and her ex-boyfriend Israel Vallarta, accused of kidnapping. It was a complete setup, according to a recent Netflix documentary.

Cassez was released by decision of the Supreme Court, which argued formal defects, in January 2013. Vallarta, who was tortured by the AFI, is still in jail and awaiting trial.

Coming from a modest neighborhood in Mexico, García Luna joined the now-defunct national intelligence service (Cisen) at the age of 21, where he took John Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI from 1924 to 1972, as a model.

There he met his wife, an intelligence analyst whom he warmly greets at every hearing in New York.

Always elegantly dressed, García Luna has crossed paths in his various positions with US security agencies, whose presence in Mexico is an open secret.

The defendant faces a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and up to a possible life sentence as “El Chapo” Guzmán.

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