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Latam Brief: García Luna convicted in NY (February 22, 2023)

Latin America Daily Briefing
Latin America Daily Briefing

Genaro García Luna, Mexico’s former top law enforcement official, was convicted of taking millions of dollars in cartel bribes, yesterday in a U.S. federal court. He is the highest-ranking current or former Mexican official ever to be tried in the United States.

A jury found García Luna guilty on all five counts in an indictment that included his alleged involvement in an ongoing criminal enterprise, international cocaine distribution and drug-related conspiracies. He faces a minimum of 20 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.

U.S. federal prosecutors said Garcia Luna, who ran the Mexico’s equivalent of the F.B.I. and then served as its public security secretary, accepted millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for protection from arrest, safe passage for cocaine shipments and tipoffs about forthcoming law enforcement operations.

Evidence against García Luna came from nine convicted cartel members who agreed to cooperate with prosecutors’ investigation and testified about the former official’s double life.

(New York TimesWashington PostGuardianAssociated Press)

More García Luna

  • The case raises the question of whether Mexico was a narco state — an accusation lobbed by current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador against the opposition. But the term is too undefined, and risks discrediting “the whole of the country and its institutions,” warns Ioan Grillo in Narco Politics. “Drug traffickers, and the broader networks of organized crime, have certainly infiltrated big chunks of the state apparatus from mayors to police chiefs to generals. But that does not mean the entire Mexican state is illegitimate.”


  • The Bahamas will increase repatriations of undocumented Haitian migrants, said Prime Minister Philip Davis, who declared in a national address that “The Bahamas is for Bahamians.” The move follows increasing alarm among Caricom countries over migration from crisis-wracked Haiti, reports the Miami Herald. (See last week’s Just Caribbean Updates.)


  • Peru’s current crisis, the ongoing anti-government protests and security forces’ heavy handed repression, builds on decades of misrule, corruption and the legacy of the country’s civil conflict “which have combined to leave rural Peruvians disenfranchised, marginalized and forgotten by Lima’s political establishment,” writes Jo-Marie Burt in World Politics Review.

  • Though Peru is no stranger to crises “this time around it appears that the space for compromise has shrunk dramatically, increasing the already very real risk that this will become an intractable—and increasingly violent—conflict,” she argues. (World Politics Review)


  • The 2020 murder of Fernando Sosa, the son of Paraguayan immigrants, by a group of rugby players who shouted racist slurs as they beat him to death, shocked Argentina. But the trial, in which several perpetrators received life imprisonment this year, did not focus on racism — activists say its part of a broader denial of a structural problem, reports the Guardian.


  • Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s promise to shift the country’s drug policy away from prohibitionism towards regulationis a welcome step in the right direction, but it is “insufficient,” argues Juan Gabriel Tokatlian in El Tiempo. “‘Total peace’ will be improbable without the full legalization of drugs, of all drugs, as well as of their production chain.”


  • Brazilian’s celebrated Carnival this weekend, a release valve of sorts after a hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and in the wake of an intensely polarized presidential election last year that culminated in attacks on government buildings in January, reports the Washington Post.

Jordana Timerman / Latin America Daily Briefing

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