Dismantling Mexico’s Narco State (Opinion)

By Ioan Grillo

Contributing Opinion writer for the NYT.

The U.S. prosecution of Mexican politicians for drug trafficking could help President López Obrador fight corruption, but he’s failing to build on it.

MEXICO CITY — While the sex-crimes trial of Harvey Weinstein takes center stage, another case is winding through a New York court with shattering implications. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are pursuing drug trafficking charges against Genaro García Luna, a key architect of the drug war of former President Felipe Calderón. After Mr. García Luna’s latest hearing on Jan. 21, his lawyer reiterated that he pleas not guilty, saying he “adamantly denies that he accepted any bribes” (from traffickers) and will go to trial.

The case is being heard by the same court that convicted Joaquin Guzman (El Chapo) last year. But in some ways this case is even more important. While the stories of drug lords fuel endless movies, TV series and novels, their convictions have failed to ease the blood bath in Mexico. There were a record 34,500 murders here last year, while the cocaine king Guzman was sentenced in New York to life in prison and sent to the Super Max.

Some activists and academics have long called for going after the gangsters’ political enablers, who often move to the United States with their millions of dollars. And to give credit to American prosecutors, they are now trying to do this. The charges against Mr. García Luna, who has lived in a mansion in Miami since 2012, follow the conviction of the brother of the Honduran president on cocaine trafficking charges in October and various cases against Venezuelan officials.