Former Mexican drug czar heads to trial accused of aiding El Chapo

By Luc Cohen NEW YORK (Reuters) - Opening statements are set to begin on Monday in the U.S. trial of a former Mexican law enforcement official once in charge of

cracking down on drug trafficking, who now stands accused of taking bribes from the powerful Sinaloa Cartel. Genaro Garcia Luna led Mexico's Federal Investigation Agency

from 2001 to 2005 and was Public Security Minister from 2006 to 2012, during which time he worked closely with U.S. counter-narcotics and intelligence agencies. He pleaded

not guilty in 2020 to U.S. charges that he accepted millions of dollars to protect the cartel once run by imprisoned drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Federal prosecutors

in Brooklyn say Garcia Luna gave the Sinaloa Cartel sensitive information about its rivals as well as safe passage for drug shipments. He faces five counts, including continuing

criminal enterprise and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Garcia Luna, who was arrested in 2019 in Texas, is one of the highest-ranking Mexican officials to be accused of

aiding drug trafficking groups, and there is considerable speculation inside Mexico about whether the trial could embarrass former officials, or even ex-presidents. Garcia

Luna ran public security under former President Felipe Calderon, who sent in Mexico's armed forces to tackle the drug gangs and put clamping down on organized crime at the center

of his 2006-2012 administration. Current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an adversary of Calderon, last Wednesday urged the public to wait and see.     "It's

all going to come out," he told a news conference, saying that U.S. officials should be called to testify if they were involved in events under investigation.