New Book Features Exclusive Interview with Jailed Leader of Mexico’s ‘War on Drugs’

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Schar School of Policy and Government professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera
Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera: ‘This book is important because it is the perspective of the Mexican government on how they saw security in Mexico before the declaration of the ‘War on Drugs.’

Little did Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera know in November of 2017 that the high-ranking Mexican government official she was interviewing with for a book on that country’s

“drug war” would three years later be arrested in the U.S. for taking millions of dollars in bribes from the villainous Sinaloa drug cartel.

The dramatic downfall of Mexico’s former secretary of public security is now a new book, Las Cinco Vidas de Genaro García Luna (El Colegio de México), written by Correa-Cabrera, a Schar School assistant professor, and Rice University’s Tony Payan. (The book is available in Spanish only.)

The book traces García Luna’s path leading to his downfall and to the security issues in Mexico today. This work also provides credible insight into just how high the reach of organized crime—the drug cartels—is able to go to the very top of Mexico’s federal authorities.

“He was the strongman of security in Mexico,” Correa-Cabrera said, regarding García Luna. “He was the protagonist in the first stage of the state-sanctioned ‘War on Drugs.’ He was the Secretary of Public Safety and the right-hand man of the Mexican president at the time, Felipe Calderón, and was very close to the DEA and to all the United States’ agencies,” including the CIA and the Department of Justice.

“And he was arrested, at the end of 2019,” she said, “charged in connection to drug trafficking, money laundering, and it was a big scandal because he was the strongman of security.” García Luna is in a New York prison awaiting trial for taking tens of millions in bribes to protect cartels.

Former Mexican secretary of public security Genaro García Luna faces charges of drug trafficking and money laundering with the Sinaloa drug cartel
Genaro García Luna awaits trial in a New York prison.

Correa-Cabrera interviewed García Luna in 2017, two years before his arrest, over three days at the Center for the United States and Mexico of the Baker Institute at Rice University in Houston, during which time he gave his perspectives on security issues in Mexico—a bitter irony—considering how his tenure came to an end.

“He thought he was untouchable,” she said, reflecting on just how powerful García Luna was at the time of the interview.

“This book is important because it is the perspective of the Mexican government on how they saw security in Mexico before the declaration of the ‘War on Drugs,’” she said.

“What is the drug war? What does that mean? Because of the ‘War on Drugs’ the violence has not been reduced. The situation in Mexico is worse than it was when they declared a war on drugs. The cartels have grown very powerful, very murderous.”