Mexico arrests former top police official for torture

FILE - In this June 28, 2012 file photo, Luis Cardenas Palomino, chief of the regional security division of Mexico's federal police, points to surveillance camera footage at the international airport related to a shooting, during a press conference in Mexico City. Mexico said Monday, July 5, 2021, that it has arrested the former leading police officers on charges of torture from nearly a decade ago. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix, File)
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Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico said Monday it has arrested a former leading police official on charges of torture from nearly a decade ago.

Former Federal Police commander Luis Cardenas Palomino was considered the right-hand man of former security secretary Genaro García Luna. García Luna is now being held on drug trafficking charges in the United States.

U.S. prosecutors have also accused Cardenas Palomino of accepting millions in bribes from the Sinaloa cartel, once run by imprisoned drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. It was not clear if Mexico would consider extraditing Cardenas Palomino.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hailed the arrest as a sign Mexico would no longer tolerate corruption and abuse, but said he did not know if Mexico would extradite Cardenas Palomino.

“He was detained because there is no longer impunity, and that helps a lot,” said the president, whose administration has struggled to find a policy to handle the drug cartels. López Obrador, for example, ordered the release of one of Guzman’s sons to avoid bloodshed.

Mexico’s attorney general’s office said Monday that Cardenas Palomino was arrested on the outskirts of Mexico City on charges he tortured a kidnapping suspect in 2012.

U.S. prosecutors allege García Luna took tens of millions of dollars in bribes to protect Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel. García Luna, who is awaiting trial in New York, has denied the allegations.

García Luna served from 2006 to 2012 as Mexico’s secretary of public security before relocating to the U.S. He was arrested in 2019 in Texas.

Cardenas Palomino served as a top commander in the now-disappeared federal police during the same years. He and García Luna were best known in Mexico for allegedly staging a 2005 raid for TV cameras, leading to the arrest of two supposed kidnapping suspects, even though the suspects had been detained illegally hours earlier.

Author José Reveles said Cardenas Palomino was “one of García Luna’s main operators” and would be “a witness with privileged information” on his former boss, adding he would most likely be extradited.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador cited widespread corruption and abuses in the federal police as a big factor in his decision to abolish the force in 2019 and roll some of its officers into the National Guard.