Federal prosecutors in New York have indicted a former senior Mexican government official on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges. The 51-year-old Florida resident is also charged with making a false statement on an application for naturalization he submitted in 2018. He was taken into custody by federal agents in Texas on Dec. 9. The indictment was unsealed in a Kings County district court on Dec. 10. The man faces penalties ranging from a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the man accepted millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel between 2001 and 2012 when he served as the head of the Mexican Federal Ministerial Police and then controlled the law enforcement agency as Mexico’s secretary of public security. In return for the money, the man is alleged to have facilitated the transportation of significant quantities of illegal drugs into the United States and provided the Sinaloa cartel with information about law enforcement investigations and the activities of rival drug gangs.
The man, who was once considered by U.S. officials to be a major ally in the war on drugs, moved to the United States in 2012. In 2018, a former Sinaloa operative testified in court that he had personally handed the man about $6 million on behalf of his cartel bosses.
Cases like this one are often difficult for U.S. attorneys to prosecute because the money trails are often obscure and witness testimony is usually provided by criminals who cooperated with authorities in return for more lenient sentences. When faced with such facts, experienced criminal defense attorneys may be able to advocate on behalf of their clients in court. However, if the evidence against their clients is compelling, attorneys might recommend entering into a negotiated plea agreement.
Source: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Former Mexican Secretary of Public Security Arrested for Drug-Trafficking Conspiracy and Making False Statements, Press release, Dec. 10, 2019