The trial of former Mexican Public Security Secretary Genaro García Luna, accused of drug trafficking, was set Wednesday for Oct. 24, 2022. Jury selection would begin on that date, Judge Brian Cogan of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York said during a hearing. The magistrate also set Jan. 9 and Jan. 16, 2023, as replacement dates if the trial cannot begin next October.
The judges, prosecutors, and attorneys for Garcia Luna set the trial to begin within a year due to the enormous amount of evidence that the prosecution has proposed and to the study of the handling of confidential information. It is to be decided what evidence will or will not be part of the trial. The COVID-19 pandemic also delays any proceedings and the access Garcia Luna's lawyers have to him in jail.
Garcia Luna, Secretary of Public Security during the six-year term of Felipe Calderon, has pleaded not guilty to the allegations linking him to drug trafficking. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York alleges that García Luna received huge amounts of money from the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for allowing him to traffic cocaine at will. Garcia Luna left Mexico in 2012 and moved to Miami. He was arrested in 2019.
Judge Cogan said at Wednesday's hearing conducted by telephone that Oct. 24, 2022, is a date that seemed late to him because then the trial will be interrupted by the Thanksgiving holidays but that he still decided to propose that day because there is a lot of pre-trial prep work.
García Luna's lawyer, César de Castro, argued that the prosecution has presented more than a million pages of evidence so far, in addition to many recordings. "Although most of this material is not related to my client, it is still difficult to go through it all," said De Castro.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for December 8 and a separate hearing to discuss confidential information will be held on December 15. Garcia Luna faces charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, participation in a continuing criminal enterprise, conspiracy to import cocaine, and lying to authorities.
The complex financial network of García Luna and the Arellano brothers
A series of documents have come to light that link him to a financial and resource triangulation network headed by brothers Juan José and Érick Arellano Hernández, businessmen from Sinaloa who continue to be targeted by Mexican authorities. According to the weekly Proceso, a huge diagram, drawn up during 2019, shows the millions of pesos and dollars that individuals and front companies moved in order to hide resources "presumably as bribes for the execution of acts of corruption" during the administration of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006-2012).
The Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF) of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP), detailed that the amounts were triangulated to at least five companies and six individuals "to enter resources to the national financial system" that would later be dispersed to tax havens, mainly in Barbados, Curacao, Latvia, Panama, Hong Kong, and Cyprus.
Among all the companies, one stood out: Operadora Grupo Gas Mart, S de RL de CV, an accounting, tax, financial and legal consultancy that is part of Grupo Arhe, which deposited, in two periods during 2016, a total of 5 million 800 thousand pesos to Glac Security Consulting, a security consultancy business created by García Luna himself.
Among the 22 profiles of individuals, in addition to the former security secretary, are his sister Esperanza and his wife Linda Cristina Pereyra, as well as the security and espionage technology businessman Samuel Weinberg and his son Jonathan Alexis Weinberg. In addition, he highlighted the name of Juan José Arellano Hernández.
Arellano Hernández sent 2 million 134 thousand pesos to Weinberg Sr. in July 2019, who, together with his son were accused by the FIU of "triangulating resources" that probably "had their origin in the payment of bribes" made through companies "whose characteristics indicate that it is possible that they are front companies, created to enter resources to the national financial system."
In addition, Juan José Arellano was also confirmed to have links with Operadora Grupo Gas Mart, of which María Hernández Ramos, his mother, is the main shareholder through another company, and his brother, Érick, is a partner. This company was linked to the Sinaloa Cartel, as a study shared with the Financial Action Task Force, highlighted the signature of "company 6", incorporated in Sinaloa, "state from where the main leaders of the drug cartels originate and whose main activity lies in accounting and consulting services".
The business of "company 6"
The UIF filed a complaint against the Operadora Grupo Gas Mart before the Attorney General's Office (FGR) on December 24, 2019, where it consigned the sending of "millionaire amounts of resources in favor of Glac Security Consulting Technology Risk Management, owned by García Luna when there is no business relationship in sight".
According to the document to which Ríodoce and Quinto Elemento Lab had access, it was concluded that the Operadora was part of a "triangulation scheme planned by Genaro García Luna in order to receive resources" coming from "bribes given by organized crime in favor of García Luna" and money obtained from the "diversion of funds from the Ministry of the Interior and the Treasury of the Federation during the six-year term of office of former President Enrique Peña Nieto".
Operadora Grupo Gas Mart was also linked to Nunvav Inc, a company incorporated in Panama in 2005 and established in Mexico in 2011, whose president was Natan Wancier, partner of Alexis Weinberg, son of Samuel Weinberg. The FIU file documented that Nunvav Inc made some transactions, from 2013 and until 2015, to two companies also owned by the Weinberg family, ICIT Private Security Mexico, SA, and ICIT Holding, SA. And in the years 2013, 2016, and 2017 it transferred more than 44 million pesos to Operadora Grupo Gas Mart.
According to the blocking agreement, more than 30 million pesos of this amount were transferred in 2016, "a circumstance that is unusual, since in that year Operadora Grupo Gas Mart sent resources to Glac Security Consulting, García Luna's company". It was also known that "prepaid cards" were acquired for an amount of 532 million 74,127 pesos.
"It is not only about the triangulation of resources to his company, but we detected that this Panamanian company (Nunvav) is the one that paid for García Luna's way of life in Miami; the question is why would a Panamanian company have to be paying resources for private goods of Mr. García Luna in Miami?" questioned Nieto Castillo in December 2019.
Among the transactions made to Nunvav during the six-year term of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), is the one made by the Ministry of the Interior (Segob). The agency sent him 2,915 million pesos and 77 million 464 thousand dollars "without apparent justification, sending the capitals to existing accounts in tax havens," stated the document consigned by Proceso.
On December 9, 2019, the federal agency blocked the accounts of Nunvav Inc, Glac Security Consulting SC, ICIT Holding SA, ICIT Private Security Mexico SA, and Operadora Grupo Gas Mart, S de RL de CV, months after García Luna's arrest. The former federal official is accused of criminal association to obtain, distribute and import cocaine, as well as having lied in 2018 to U.S. border authorities by saying he had never committed a crime.
The charges also include membership in a criminal enterprise, with aggravating circumstances for trafficking 5,000 kilograms of cocaine in December 2008, 23,000 kilograms in October 2007, and another 19 and a half tons in March of the same year, in addition to three other drug operations in 2002 and 2003.
In total, there are four charges related to drug trafficking, including that of continuous criminal enterprise, which carries a minimum sentence of 20 years and a maximum of life imprisonment. To this is added false statements to accumulate five charges.