Former Mexican Defense Secretary Arrested in LA on Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Charges

(MEXICO CITY) — Former Mexican protection secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who led the nation’s military for six years beneath ex-President Enrique Peña Nieto, has been arrested on drug trafficking and cash laundering prices at Los Angeles Worldwide Airport, U.S. and Mexican sources mentioned Thursday.

Two individuals with information of the arrest mentioned Cienfuegos was taken into custody on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warrant. One of many individuals mentioned the warrant was for drug trafficking and cash laundering prices. Each spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to debate the case publicly.

The DEA declined to remark Thursday evening.

Mexico’s Overseas Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, wrote on his Twitter account that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Landau had knowledgeable him of the retired common’s arrest and that Cienfuegos had a proper to obtain consular help.

A senior Mexican official, who additionally spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of he wasn’t approved to present particulars of the case, mentioned Cienfuegos was arrested when he arrived on the Los Angeles airport together with his household. His members of the family had been launched and he was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Heart.

Cienfuegos served from 2012 to 2018 as secretary of protection beneath Peña Nieto. He’s the highest-ranking former Cupboard official arrested because the high Mexican safety official Genaro Garcia Luna was arrested in Texas in 2019. Garcia Luna, who served beneath former President Felipe Calderón, has pleaded not responsible to drug trafficking prices.

Cienfuegos is 72 years previous and has retired from lively obligation. Mexico’s Protection Division had no instant response to the arrest.

Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former chief of worldwide operations, mentioned when he was in Mexico in 2012 he heard corruption allegations about Cienfuegos.

“There have been all the time allegations of corruption, nothing we might sink our enamel into. That was type of unprecedented as a result of Mexico has all the time put the navy on a pedestal,” mentioned Vigil, writer of the e-book “The Land of Enchantment Cartel.”

“The corruption is simply coming to roost, as a result of people who had been as soon as untouchable at the moment are getting arrested,” Vigil mentioned. “In the event that they cooperate (with U.S. prosecutors) there are others who’re going to be falling, noting U.S. officers “normally don’t need to commerce down, they normally commerce up,” searching for proof towards equal or higher-ranking officers. “It’s actually a precarious state of affairs for Mexico to have two Cupboard-level officers arrested within the U.S.”

Regardless of the prices, will probably be a tricky blow for Mexico, the place the military and navy are a few of the few remaining revered public establishments.

Whereas present President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has vowed to go after corruption and lawbreaking beneath previous administrations, he has additionally relied extra closely on the military — and charged it with extra duties, starting from constructing infrastructure tasks to distributing medical provides — than some other president in current historical past.

Beneath Cienfuegos, the Mexican military was accused of frequent human rights abuses, however that was true of each his predecessors and his successor within the put up.

The worst scandal in Cienfuegos’ tenure concerned the 2014 military killings of suspects in a grain warehouse.

The June 2014 bloodbath concerned troopers who killed 22 suspects on the warehouse within the city of Tlatlaya. Whereas some died in an preliminary shootout with the military patrol — by which one soldier was wounded — a human rights investigation later confirmed that a minimum of eight and maybe as many as a dozen suspects had been executed after they surrendered.


Dazio reported from Los Angeles. Related Press Author Mark Stevenson contributed from Mexico Metropolis.


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