Could Calderon’s Top Security Official Be Investigated for Narco-Ties?

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A new report claims that US intelligence services are holding a large cache of files on the alleged narco-ties of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s top security minister, raising the question of whether the new administration will pursue a full investigation where others haven’t.

The Proceso report (available online at El Diario de Coahuila), published one day after Felipe Calderon and his cabinet left office, details an interview the magazine held with an anonymous agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) about Calderon’s public security secretary, Genaro Garcia Luna.

As the agent told the magazine, “The intelligence services have a large collection of reports gathered in Mexico and the United States, that point to possible ties between Garcia Luna and drug traffickers. For example, with the Beltran Leyvas [BLO], with the Zetas, and with the Gulf Cartel. Some of this information dates back to the [Vicente] Fox administration.”

Prior to serving as the public security secretary, a position he took up in 2006, Garcia was the director general of the now-defunct Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) under Vicente Fox.

News of Garcia’s supposed criminal links follows a recent accusation made by captured BLO member Edgar Valdez Villareal, alias “La Barbie,” in which he stated in an open letter that Garcia had been on his payroll since as early as 2002.

Asked by Proceso why US intelligence sources have decided to speak only now about Garcia rather than during his time as an official, the DEA agent replied, “Out of respect to [Mexico] and because he was the direct contact with the United States.”

The DEA source stressed, however, that despite there being detailed information on Garcia’s alleged nefarious dealings, advancing any investigation against him rests completely in the hands of Mexico’s federal authorities.

“If the government of (Enrique) Peña Nieto takes the decision to … follow up on that intelligence information about Garcia Luna, it’s possible that … they may clarify some of the … mysteries that there are regarding the fight against drug trafficking during the Calderon government,” the source added.

InSight Crime Analysis

Accusations of corruption have long been levelled at Garcia. In late 2008, Proceso published an investigative piece claiming that many of the personnel Garcia kept in his inner circle had ties to drug traffickers and that Garcia himself was linked to Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Ismael Zambada Garcia, alias “El Mayo.”

These claims that Garcia had filled the Public Security Secretariat (SSP) with his cronies were seconded by a former top police official, Javier Herrera Valles, who published two letters in 2008 that he had sent to Calderon accusing Garcia of corrupting the SSP with people who would favor the Sinaloa Cartel. Herrera was sentenced in December 2011 to 10 years for drug trafficking ties and allegedly tortured while in prison, on the suspected orders of Garcia.

Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) has reportedly kept tabs on Garcia’s supposed relationship with criminal organizations since 2005. None of these have materialized into an investigation, however.

The question now is whether Peña Nieto will choose to pursue the former SSP head. Garcia was widely viewed as being a favorite of Calderon’s and thus immune from any investigative procedures during the previous administration. With this protection no longer afforded to him, he is vulnerable to the threat of a new government that may try and make an example of him and demonstrate a break from their “corrupt” predecessors. The leader of the opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in Michoacan has already called on Peña Nieto to follow this course of action.

The fact that the DEA source speaking to Proceso acknowledged that intelligence officials have had to wait until Calderon left office to open up about Garcia suggests there may be a willingness in the United States to see him investigated as well. If this happens and the many claims against Garcia are found to be true, it would present perhaps the most damning indictment against Felipe Calderon’s time in office and his infamous war on the country’s drug gangs.

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