Former public security minister Genaro Garcia Luna
Former public security minister Genaro Garcia Luna oversaw Mexico's war on drug trafficking under ex-president Felipe Calderon. Photo by: AFP/Alfredo Estrella

Genaro Garcia Luna, who was once in charge of Mexico's battle to vanquish drug kingpins and root out illegal narcotics, was convicted of drug trafficking.

He was convicted for secretly providing years of protection to former drug lord El Chapo and the Sinaloa cartel, reported Bloomberg.

Luna, who was accused of helping cartel members to import and distribute huge amounts of drugs into the U.S., was found guilty on Tuesday by a federal jury in New York.

This comes after a four-week trial that uncovered how narco-traffickers worked with the Mexican government official who was appointed to catch them.

Luna, who was once Mexico's security minister, was found guilty of taking millions of dollars from the Sinaloa drug cartel, which is Mexico's biggest crime group.

Luna, who moved to the U.S. after leaving office, was arrested in the state of Texas in 2019 but pleaded not guilty.

Luna, 54, could face life in jail, and at a minimum, he will serve the mandatory minimum of 20 years.

Prosecutors said that he accepted cash that was stuffed in briefcases and handed over by members of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's Sinaloa drug cartel.

According to BBC, Luna happens to be the highest-ranking official from Mexico to be tried in America.

Jesus Ramirez Cuevas, a spokesperson of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, praised the decision taken by the jury on Twitter. He also took aim at former Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Luna had served under Calderon, who oversaw a crackdown on drug cartels in Mexico that started in 2006.

Cuevas tweeted that justice has arrived for the "former squire of Felipe Calderón," and that the crimes against "our people will never be forgotten."

The conviction has "big implications" for the US and Mexico governments' fight against corruption and organized crime, said Ioan Grillo, a Mexico-based British author and expert on Mexico's criminal underworld.

He shared that this could "encourage prosecutors to go after other cases."

He added that Luna's conviction could also help dissuade Mexican officials from being "openly corrupt."

He noted that if you're a Mexican agent, "you'll be thinking about how much you expose yourself to the Americans."

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