Mexico issues warrant for ex-security chief accused of aiding cartel

FILE PHOTO: Former Mexican security secretary Genaro Garcia Luna is watched by his wife and daughter in Brooklyn federal court
Lizbeth Diaz

By Lizbeth Diaz

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has issued an arrest warrant for a former security minister wanted on corruption charges and may request his extradition from the United States where he is being held awaiting trial, an official told Reuters.

Ex-Security Minister Genaro Garcia Luna pled not guilty last month to U.S. charges involving a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme allegedly designed to boost the Sinaloa cartel once headed by jailed drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

The new arrest warrant was issued on Friday and resulted from a charge of illegal enrichment in Mexico, according to an official with the attorney general's office.

The charge stems from Garcia Luna's inability to show that more than $1 million in property acquisitions in Mexico were made lawfully, the official said.

"We already have an arrest warrant against Garcia Luna and we're studying the viability of requesting and starting his extradition process," the official said.

Milenio newspaper reported earlier on Sunday that an extradition request would follow the conclusion of the former minister's trial in the United States. Reuters was not able to confirm that.

Mexico's foreign ministry, responsible for making extradition requests, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Garcia Luna is accused of taking suitcases of cash from the Sinaloa cartel to ensure safe passage for its drugs as well as passing on information about its rivals.

He was arrested in late 2019 in Dallas and is currently being held in New York awaiting trial.

His indictment has roiled Mexico's political establishment, marking the first time such a senior security figure had been charged with aiding one of the country's most powerful criminal organizations.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Daniel Wallis)