As they say in the movies – everybody has a price.
Courthouse News Service reports
A former member of a Mexican drug cartel testified in U.S. federal court Monday that he paid his country’s top security official millions of dollars to secure the transport of massive cocaine shipments and to protect traffickers from raids and arrests.
Genaro García Luna, Mexico’s former public security secretary, is on trial in Brooklyn, accused of taking the hefty bribes to protect the Sinaloa cartel, which the notorious drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán headed up for years before his own recent takedown and imprisonment.
On the witness stand Monday, Oscar Nava-Valencia — also known as “El Lobo” — told jurors that the bribes from traffickers worked to safeguard massive drug shipments and secure intel about forthcoming police raids.
The cooperating witness told the jury about a time in 2007 when authorities seized more than 20 tons of cocaine at Mexico’s Port of Manzanillo coming from Colombia, half of which Nava-Valencia expected to receive. In an attempt to recover the cargo, Nava-Valencia paid García Luna $10 million, he testified. But the move was unsuccessful because, as García Luna explained at the time, Mexico’s marines and U.S. law enforcement were involved in the seizure. The drugs were incinerated.
Still, García Luna helped in another way: furnishing a report for Nava-Valencia that showed the seizure occurred because of a tip about activity on the part of the sender from Colombia. This got Nava-Valencia’s group off the hook for the $50 million the group in Colombia lost on the deal.
“We sent them a copy of the document so they could see the problem was theirs, not ours,” Nava-Valencia said of his Colombian trade partners.
Nava-Valencia said he was first involved in bribing García Luna in 2006, when he chipped in $2.5 million as part of a payment pool.
After the Sinaloa cartel split into factions in 2008, Nava-Valencia sided with El Chapo — in large part because the other group’s leader, Arturo Beltrán Leyva, had ordered Nava-Valencia to be kidnapped and held for a week at a safe house in Mexico City, the witness testified.
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