Mexico said Monday that it had asked the United States to extradite a former public security minister who was being held in New York on allegations of taking huge bribes to allow the notorious Sinaloa cartel to smuggle drugs.
The request comes after an arrest warrant was issued in Mexico for Genaro Garcia Luna, who was detained in Texas in December 2019.
It also follows the shock decision by US authorities last month to drop drug trafficking charges against Mexico’s former defense minister Salvador Cienfuegos and send him home for possible prosecution.
The once-powerful Garcia Luna, who was an architect of Mexico’s war on drug trafficking, has pleaded not guilty to the US charges and was being held in a New York prison awaiting trial.
The extradition request from Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office was made through the embassy in Washington, the foreign ministry said in a brief statement.
The US accuses Garcia Luna of accepting millions of dollars in bribes to allow drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s cartel to ship drugs into the US.
According to Mexican media, Garcia Luna was being investigated in his home country for alleged diversion of public funds while he was public security minister during Felipe Calderon’s 2006-2012 presidency.
It is the first investigation opened in Mexico against the former minister, one of a number of high-ranking officials who have been accused of links to drug trafficking.
The Mexican government pushed hard for the return of former defense chief Cienfuegos, a key figure in ex-president Enrique Pena Nieto’s 2012 to 2018 government.
The retired general was detained at a Los Angeles airport in October and indicted on drug trafficking and money laundering charges, to the surprise and irritation of Mexican officials.
He returned to Mexico last month where he is under investigation but has not been charged with any crime.