A former Mexican official convicted of drug trafficking testified in a New York court on Tuesday that he had been told that Felipe Calderón, the onetime president of Mexico, had instructed government officials to support the Sinaloa drug cartel as it battled its rivals.

The accusation was made by Edgar Veytia, the former attorney general from the state of Nayarit, who was himself sentenced in a Brooklyn federal court in 2019 to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking. Calderón was quick to denounce the allegation as ludicrous.

“I categorically deny the absurd statements reported by the press made today by the witness Veytia,” Calderón tweeted Tuesday. “What you say about me is an absolute lie. I never negotiated or made a pact with criminals.”

Veytia’s claims came at the federal corruption trial of Genaro García Luna, Mexico’s former top security official, who is facing charges in the same Brooklyn courthouse of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the cartel to help traffickers move huge shipments of narcotics into the United States. From 2006 to 2012, García Luna served in Calderón’s Cabinet as the public security secretary, a powerful post in which he effectively ran the Mexican government’s war against drug cartels.

While dramatic and explosive, Veytia’s charge underscored some frailties in the prosecution’s case, which has been built so far almost exclusively on testimony from former drug traffickers and government officials — many serving sentences in their own corruption cases — with little other evidence to support it. His testimony about Calderón was a secondhand account about events he did not witness himself.

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