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Trusted Mexican official on trial for working with Narcos

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As reporters clambered for a spot in Brooklyn federal court house, federal prosecutors laid out their opening arguments Monday against a top Mexican official, Genaro Garcia Luna, who was once a trusted ally of the United States in its continuing fight against Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels.

Luna, 54, who headed the Mexican Federal Police, was considered one of the few state officials brought into the circle of trust by U.S. intelligence and narcotics officials targeting the Sinaloa and Beltran Levy cartels.

What U.S. officials didn’t know at the time is that their ally was believed to be making millions of dollars aiding and abetting the cartels.  He led Mexico’s Federal Investigative Agency from 2001 to 2005. It wasn’t until 2006, that he was named the secretary of public security, putting him in charge of the Mexican Federal Police.

Luna, is being accused by prosectors for providing direct aide to  Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman – former head of the Sinaloa Cartel – and the leaders of the Beltran Levy cartel, which is responsible for moving hundreds of millions of dollars in cocaine and other illicit narcotics into the United States. He is also suspected to  of being behind the killing of a top DEA informant that worked closely with U.S. officials.

Charging these officials in the United States sends a clear message to the cartels but it also exposes how vulnerable our nation is to the growing power of the narco-terrorist organizations, said Derek Maltz, who headed DEA’s Special Operations.

“There is wide spread systemic corruption in Mexico and Central America that enables the cartels to operate with impunity,” said Maltz. “Unfortunately, American families and communities are suffering and historic numbers of young citizens are dying from the deadly drugs. I look forward to hearing the dramatic testimony that will expose the “triple agent” to the world. Maybe then will the American citizens recognize the level of the threat to our citizens.”

Maltz pointed out that the Eastern District of New York Prosecutors “had the courage to expose this nightmare to the world just like they did with El Chapo. These ruthless Narco terrorists need to be held accountable and gave Justice.”

Maltz also warned that it is  “corrupt officials like Luna help the Mexican Terror Cartels daily by providing sensitive information and creating safe routes for the deadly drugs to be imported into the US. They get huge rewards and live the rock star high lives are our families suffer. I applaud the law enforcement officials and US Attorney and Assistants who recognized the importance of exposing the truth to the public. ”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Pilmar said, according to reports that Luna “kept taking dirty money and cocaine kept flowing into the United States…Because he controlled the country’s entire police force, the defendant thought he was above the law … No one is above the law.”

Luna’s connection to the death of a DEA informant is described in detail in a report on The Intercept:

García Luna’s alleged role in the DEA informant’s death came to light during the sentencing of another Mexican security official accused of crimes in the U.S.: Ivan Reyes Arzate, also known as “La Reina.”

According to over 200 pages of court records, La Reina was a Federal Police officer from 2003 to 2016. He rose through the ranks and in 2008, was promoted to commander of the Federal Police’s Sensitive Investigative Unit, also known as the SIU. La Reina’s top boss, as with all Federal Police officials, was the secretary of public security, García Luna.

The SIU was the premier Federal Police unit working with the DEA in Mexico — or it was supposed to be, having been specially created for that purpose. All SIU members, including La Reina, received special training from the DEA in Quantico, Virginia. The DEA relied on the SIU for operations, surveillance, and high-profile arrests.

“We have very special or specific people that we work with who we have tried to vet and make sure that we can trust them,” one DEA agent said in court, “because of the corruption that we know sometimes exists in those other countries and around the world.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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