Mexico: Ex-security chief stole $745 million from contracts

Feb 8, 2023, 7:26 PM | Updated: Feb 9, 2023, 11:05 am

Mexican authorities said Thursday that former top security official Genaro Garcia Luna embezzled as much as $745 million from government technology contracts.

Pablo Gómez, the head of Mexico’s anti-money laundering unit, said Garcia Luna and associates set up companies that got dubious government contracts while he was Mexico’s top security official in 2006-2012 and for six years afterward.

Gomez described some of the properties the Mexican government is seeking to recover in a lawsuit filed in Florida against Garcia Luna and his alleged associates. Garcia Luna moved to Florida after leaving office in Mexico.

García Luna is currently on trial in New York, accused of accepting millions of dollars to let the Sinaloa cartel traffic tons of cocaine to the U.S.. The lawsuit is separate from the criminal trial.

Garcia Luna allegedly channeled money from prison security and government intelligence technology contracts to offshore accounts, many in Barbados, then sent it to Miami to buy fancy condos and vintage cars.

Gómez suggested Garcia Luna and his associates had a penchant for vintage Mustangs from the 1960s and ’70s, saying they had bought several of them. He said they also bought luxury sports cars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris.

Gómez said the Florida lawsuit was filed in December 2021.

The contracts were for things like surveillance, monitoring and communications equipment used in prisons and in intelligence work. The contracts were presumably inflated. In one case, Gómez said, the contract was simply falsified.

In New York, Garcia Luna is on trial accused of accepting briefcases full of cash — millions of dollars, in all — to let the notorious Sinaloa cartel operate with impunity as it sent cocaine to the U.S. His defense has denied the charges, noting the prosecution’s evidence is based on verbal testimony from imprisoned former drug traffickers.

Garcia Luna served as secretary of public security under President Felipe Calderon from 2006 to 2012. His lawyers say he was a legitimate businessman who did consulting in Florida before he was arrested in 2019.

Mexico’s current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has long complained that when corrupt politicians and drug traffickers are convicted in the United States, the U.S. seizes and keeps their fortunes, which were often largely made in Mexico. López Obrador wants Mexico to recover that money.

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Mexico: Ex-security chief stole $745 million from contracts