Former Mexican Secretary of Public Security, Genaro Garcia Luna, is currently on trial in a Brooklyn court on charges of drug trafficking and making false statements to federal agents. The trial, which began on January 25, 2023, is the result of a multi-year investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into allegations that Garcia Luna took millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug trafficking organizations in Mexico.
Garcia Luna served as Mexico’s top law enforcement official from 2006 to 2012 under the administration of President Felipe Calderon, and is accused of taking bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for providing them with protection and information on law enforcement activities. The prosecution has presented evidence in court that Garcia Luna received tens of millions of dollars in bribes from the cartel, and that he used his position to help the cartel evade law enforcement and expand its operations.
During the trial, it has been revealed that Garcia Luna venerated the Mexican folk saint Santa Muerte, which is the fastest growing new religious movement in the West. The skeleton saint is invoked by some drug traffickers and other criminals in Mexico as a protector and a source of supernatural power. Santa Muerte has become particularly popular among both high-level traffickers and Mexican law enforcement officials, who often keep altars to the saint in their homes and workplaces.
Recent research reveals that Santa Muerte has a reputation as a powerful protector of devotees and that many narcos believe that her blessings can help them evade both law enforcement and rival cartels. The prosecution has presented evidence that Garcia Luna had an altar dedicated to the saint in his Mexico City office and that he invoked her protection and asked for her blessings in his work as President Calderon’s top law enforcement official charged with prosecuting the drug war.
And at the same time Garcia Luna was asking the saint of death for protection, the Mexican army was sent to the border with Texas and California in March of 2009 to bulldoze some 40 Santa Muerte shrines since Calderon and his political ally, the Catholic Church saw her as a narco-saint doing the spiritual bidding of certain cartels. Mexican journalist Gil Olmos, who has written extensively on Santa Muerte and the occult in his country, also claims that the office altar of Garcial Luna had a statuette of Lucifer alongside the skeleton saint. The revelation has added an additional layer of controversy to the case, which has drawn widespread media attention in Mexico and the United States.