Mexico said Friday it is investigating $200 million in suspicious government transfers to companies linked to its ex-public security minister, who was arrested earlier this month in the United States.
The US accuses Genaro Garcia Luna, one of the architects of Mexico’s war on drug trafficking, of taking huge bribes from jailed kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s cartel to let it ship tons of drugs into the United States.
The head of Mexico’s financial investigations unit, Santiago Nieto, said his office had opened its own investigation after Garcia’s arrest in Texas on December 9, and uncovered millions of dollars in questionable government transfers made to a web of companies linked to his family.
“In 2013, 2017 and 2018 there were payments of 2.6 billion pesos ($140 million) and $77 million to a company that made transfers to Israel, Latvia, Panama, China, the United States, Barbados and Curacao, among others,” Nieto told a news conference, speaking alongside leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
“What’s interesting about this? The Panamanian company that channeled the funds was owned by Garcia Luna’s family, and that company ended up funding Mr Garcia Luna’s lifestyle in Miami.”
Garcia was public security minister from 2006 — the year former president Felipe Calderon deployed the army to crack down on drug cartels — until 2012.
Nieto said the dodgy transfers were made during both Calderon’s administration (2006-2012) and that of his successor, Enrique Pena Nieto (2012-2018). But he said there was no evidence directly implicating either president.
Lopez Obrador, a leftist anti-corruption crusader who took office in December 2018, said the investigation was not about “persecuting” past administrations.
“We have to clean corruption out of government, and the federal prosecutor’s office is going to do its job,” he said.
Garcia, who is due to be transferred to New York to face trial, has denied accepting suitcases stuffed with millions of dollars in bribes from Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel.
Mexico has said it will seek to extradite him.