“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

The trial in a Brooklyn, New York courthouse presided over by Judge Cogan against Genaro Garcia Luna is coming to a close. The prosecution is calling their final witnesses before resting their case. His defense team only plans to call one witness before it goes to closing arguments and jury deliberations.

7:00AM CST

What could be the final day of the prosecution’s case against former Mexican Secretary of Public Security Genaro Garcia Luna is about to start at the Brooklyn, NY federal courthouse. Many suspects that Jesus “El Rey” Zambada, brother of “El Mayo”, will testify today.

During the 2018-2019 trial of “El Chapo”, El Rey said he personally handed over $300,000 per month in bribes while he was based in Mexico City, corrupting nearly every level of law enforcement in the Mexican capital…”

7:10AM CST

Based on information in a motion filed by the defense regarding the witness and their multiple meetings with the government, it is set to be “El Rey.” This is based on his March 2020 sentencing date, after his successful testimony in the trial of “El Chapo.” And also by electronically analyzing the document unearthing the redacted witness’ name by journalist Jesus Garcia. The text was still searchable despite the redaction.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has previously said El Rey is not in its custody, leading to speculation he may be in a witness protection program, free of his charges. On May 12, 2021, after testifying against “El Chapo”, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the United States Department of the Treasury removed Jesús Reynaldo Zambada García, “El Rey”, from its lists.

8:45AM CST

According to various sources, Genaro Garcia Luna has refused to testify in his defense. Previously, his defense team had not decided yet as they filed a motion to preclude certain lines of questioning during his cross-examination. Judge Cogan then essentially denied the motion saying that prosecutors were free to ask him about anything that had previously been restricted, including his post-2012 wealth. His testimony is riskier than the prosecution’s evidence so far due to this and the potential for being charged with perjury or incriminating himself further.

9:00AM CST – El Rey Begins his Testimony

“El Rey” Zambada has begun to testify about personally giving bribes to Genaro García Luna in 2006 at the start of the Calderón era. He says there were two meetings at a restaurant called Champs-Élysées in CDMX. In the first meeting, he delivered $3 million, and the second one was $2 million.

Rey described the hierarchy of the Sinaloa Cartel and how the cocaine business worked. He estimated the cartel sent ~100 tons per month to the US, worth $2.8-3 billion. Cartel started to grow during the Vicente Fox era: “Every single day of the 6-year term it became stronger.”
9:10AM CST

Rey said he was told by an associate of Arturo Beltrán-Leyva that Genaro García Luna was receiving monthly payments of $1.5 million to help the Sinaloa Cartel while he was in charge of AFI. Cartel members “wore AFI uniforms, they’d go out and make arrests and engage in fighting.”

So far his testimony backs up and corroborates that of earlier witnesses regarding bribery amounts and BLO members wearing AFI uniforms.
9:15AM CST
Based on the court document filed by the defense regarding “El Rey” he had been sentenced in March 2020 following his cooperation with the DOJ against “El Chapo.” It previously was not known when he was ultimately sentenced, only that he was no longer in BOP custody around that time and later removed from US sanctions lists.
9:20AM CST

Rey on why García Luna was so valuable to the cartel: “You could work a lot, there was a lot of security, there was the support given with the fighting and the hitmen, it was very important.”

After Rey personally bribed GGL in 2006, he said: “He said there are no problems with my brother (El Mayo), he’d make sure he had no direct prosecutions or investigations.” He was told Arturo Beltran Leyva had a similar arrangement.

10:45AM CST – Payments Made through Lawyer

Rey Zambada says corruption payments were typically made through a lawyer named Oscar Parades, a trusted associate of El Mayo: “I was the person who gave the money to Oscar and he would give it to [Luis Cardenas] Palomino. These payments always had to be made.”

According to Zambada, García Luna also allegedly told the Sinaloa Cartel he would let them “choose personnel” for certain federal police assignments, usually the “Yankee,” as they called the commanders of the “plazas” controlled by the cartel.
10:50AM CST – Mexico City Airport

Rey Zambada ran the Mexico City airport for the Sinaloa Cartel from 2000 to his arrest in 2008. He said his payroll included members of Mexico’s PGR, AFI, and federal highway and port officers. “We wouldn’t be able to work without that help… it was a very safe way to work,” Rey said Federal Police officers at the Mexico City airport would help unload cocaine shipments.

They used small private jets from Venezuela and large cargo planes capable of carrying 1-5 tons. The amount would vary “depending on what the govt allowed for.”

11:00AM CST – El Chapo Hid Out in CDMX

Rey recounted some of his testimony from the Chapo trial, describing how he and El Mayo sent a helicopter to rescue Chapo from the Mexican Army during the manhunt after his 2001 prison escape. They took Chapo to CDMX because it was under Rey’s control. Rey said, “no problem.”

11:15AM CST – Meetings with Luna

Prosecutors showed a photo of the restaurant Champs-Élysées where Rey delivered the alleged bribes to García Luna. It’s near the Angel of Independence in CDMX, very close to the US Embassy. Rey described it as “muy elegante” and said GGL used a private room on the 2nd floor. Rey said he knew the owner of Champs-Élysées and some of the staff because he used to have “a very large pork farm.” The place was known for making suckling pig during December, and Rey struck a deal to sell them some of his “animalitos”

This testimony corroborated that of DEA Agent Miguel Madrigal’s earlier testimony about meetings taking place at that restaurant.

1:15PM CST – “El Rey’s” Inside Man

Rey Zambada testified that at the start of Calderón’s term, he paid a bribe of $350K to get one of his men, Edgar Vayardo, a job in Mexico’s SIEDO, the federal organized crime investigators. The money, he said, was for García Luna’s nephew, Victor Hugo García.

He said three times he paid $100K to get Vayardo promotions within SIEDO, with the money going to GGL’s nephew: “The more power he had, the more promotions, the more use he could be for the cartel. He provided info about investigations, and he also helped with security.”

In exchange for monthly payments of $350K, Vayardo would pass along information: “Sometimes when our jobs had been picked up by authorities, he’d tell us the DEA had seized it… I heard him talking with DEA agents over the radio 2-3 times.”

1:30PM CST – Cross-Examination

The defense’s cross-examination of Rey Zambada is underway now. The defense brought out a horrible story where Rey and the Sinaloa Cartel had a police commander murdered by knocking on his door and saying his son had been hit by a car in the street. When the man ran out to check, he was shot.

2:30PM CST

El Rey tried to say he never wanted to get involved in the cartel, but he lost his job as an accountant when his brother El Mayo became known as a drug lord. When pressed about earning millions of dollars in cash, Rey replied: “When you look at it, it was my destiny.”

2:35PM CST – “El Rey’s” Family in the US

Rey was sentenced in March 2020, shortly after the El Chapo verdict, and received 12 years, which worked out to be time served. He’s been free on supervised release ever since. Prosecutors advocated for him at sentencing and helped bring his family to the US.

3:00PM CST 

Rey Zambada’s cross-examination will continue tomorrow, followed by two brief witnesses for the government, likely ones that will help back up his testimony. The defense has one witness to call, w/ testimony expected to last about half an hour.

3:15PM CST – Luna’s Shell Companies

“Financial documents related to one of the defendant’s shell companies reflect that approximately one year before the defendant’s arrest, he paid more than $3.7 million in cash for property in Miami, Florida, which he still had an ownership interest in at the time of his arrest”

It is based on this evidence that Luna does not want to testify as he would be asked about his post-2012 finances and could incriminate himself, counteracting defense claims.