“Socalj” for Borderland Beat
Attorney Cesar De Castro filed motions to drop the charges of having led a criminal organization and conspiracy with drug trafficking, especially with the Sinaloa Cartel. According to the defense, if the evidence was sufficient enough to find him responsible for conspiracy, the crime itself would have been charged. In November 2022, prior to the start of the trial, Luna’s defense asked the drug trafficking charges to be dropped. The Judge rejected that motion and the four charges remained.
They also argued that even if the evidence was sufficient to establish that he was responsible for the charge, beyond a reasonable doubt, he had withdrawn from the charged conspiracies at the expiration of the statute of limitations.
The defense team stated that his testimony establishes that “no one from the Sinaloa Cartel had any interaction with García Luna after 2011 and that he resigned from his position in the Mexican government at the end of 2012. The statute of limitations on these charges is 5 years and therefore has expired prior to the government obtaining an indictment against Luna in 2019.
However, the court specified that the defendant is the one who must establish the evidence of having abandoned the conspiracy. But this does not exempt the prosecution from proving all the elements of the crimes charged beyond a reasonable doubt.
DHS investigator Marlene Tarantino testified regarding the “red flags” about García Luna’s citizenship petition for the accusation of lying to immigration authorities. She received an investigative report from the Department of Justice.
To Testify or Not to Testify?
There is a possibility that García Luna will testify in the trial, although it has not been confirmed. But his defense has requested that certain information and lines of questioning not be discussed during his potential cross-examination should he choose to testify in his defense.
Should he decide not to take the stand, his lawyer Cesar de Castro, has requested that the judge direct the jury to not discuss the fact that Luna decided not to testify and any ideas of suspicion behind his decision.
It is yet to be seen if Luna will testify in his own defense next week after the prosecution rests its side of the case. But in anticipation of this, his defense team has filed motions to preclude certain questions and information from coming out during his cross-examination.
Prosecutors oppose limitations of the defense on questions that they can or cannot ask Genaro García Luna if he decides to testify. The only clear limitation at the moment is the one ordered by Judge Cogan on wealth after 2012. They look to show evidence that before 2012 when he left his post in Mexico, García Luna paid for more than $4 million dollars in properties in Miami.
Potential Final “Significant Witness”
In a filing regarding the prosecution’s schedule for resting their case next week. They refer to calling a significant witness on Monday, February 13, 2023. Prior to the beginning of the trial, documents were shown that listed instructions regarding lines of questioning for a few potential witnesses. Among the names referenced included several that have since testified.
One name mentioned that has yet to testify is that of “El Mayo’s” brother Jesus “El Rey” Zambada. “El Rey” has previously testified that he personally has paid bribe money to Garcia Luna.
Jesús “El Rey” Zambada
In fact, it is very likely that the piece of evidence that resulted in his arrest and this trial arose stemmed from the testimony of Jesús “El Rey” Zambada during the trial against “El Chapo” in 2019. “El Rey” indicated that Luna received briefcases with millions on at least two occasions. DEA agent, Miguel Madrigal, also told the jury that “El Rey” Zambada had a close relationship with people close to García Luna, such as Édgar Bayardo, who was then a commander of the Mexican Police and whom he saw in a video gathered with Zambada.
Iván “La Reina” Reyes Arzate
FBI agent José Moreno, testified about the failed operation in 2012 to arrest “El Chapo”, after locating him through his cell phone. The information was sent to the federal police controlled by García Luna. The police arrived late. Agent Moreno stated that the information was given to Iván Reyes Arzate, “La Reina”, whom García Luna had as a liaison with the DEA.
Reyes Arzate was sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking by Judge Cogan himself after pleading guilty and acknowledged receiving $3 million from the Beltran Leyva Organization. At that time, the prosecutors who handled his case assured that Reyes-Arzate would not cooperate in other trials, but the sentencing documents have been sealed and both the prosecutors and the defense had a private discussion with Judge Cogan at the time.
Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez-Villarreal