The former Secretary of National Defense was arrested on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering in the United States.
The arrest last night of General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda it was for drug trafficking Y money launderingsays the newspaper this morning The New York Times and also the agency Associated Press. He surprised even high-ranking former officials in the United States, says The Wall Street Journal.
“I have been informed by Ambassador Christopher Landau of the United States that the former Secretary of National Defense, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos ZepedaHe has been detained at the Los Angeles Airport, California, ”said Marcelo Luis Ebrard Casaubón, Secretary of Foreign Relations, at night. “The Consul in Los Angeles will be informing me of the charges in the next few hours. We will offer the consular assistance to which you are entitled. I keep you posted, ”added Ebrard Casaubón.
The General is not investigated in Mexico nor does he appear in any criminal case, as far as is known. It is the United States that requires it. Last night, the Spanish newspaper El País announced that he was arrested at the request of the United States anti-drug agency, by the DEA. Dozens of Mexican generals have been singled out for years of taking money and even being part of criminal groups. But never has a General Secretary, in this case in retirement, been detained.
If it is officially confirmed that Cienfuegos was arrested for a matter related to money laundering and conspiracy to traffic drugs, it would be very surprising, but also historic given the charge he held in Mexico. “A former secretary of National Defense of Mexico has never been arrested,” Jorge Castañeda, former secretary of Foreign Relations, told The New York Times. “The Secretary of Defense of Mexico is a guy who not only directs the Army and is a military man, but also reports directly to the President [en este caso EnriquerPeña Nieto]. There is no one above him except the President.
“The former official was arrested by US officials at the request of the DEA and will face drug and money laundering charges in the United States, according to a federal law enforcement officer in New York,” the New York-based newspaper added.
The arrest will boost President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has made a career out of his corruption allegations, he says Wall Street Journal.
Cienfuegos led the Armed Forces for six years in the government of former President Enrique Peña Nieto, “he was arrested on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering at the Los Angeles International Airport at the request of the US anti-drug agency, sources from both reported on Thursday. countries. Two people with knowledge of the arrest said Cienfuegos was taken into the custody of US authorities by a DEA arrest warrant. One of the sources pointed out that the order was for drug trafficking and money laundering charges. They both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly, “she said this morning. Associated Press.
A Mexican federal official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to give details about the case, told the agency Associated Press that Cienfuegos was detained upon arrival at the Los Angeles airport along with family members, who were released, and he was sent to the city’s Metropolitan Detention Center.
Video: General Cienfuegos, imprisoned in the US for ‘narco’ (Millennium)
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“The General served as Secretary of Defense from 2012 to 2018 in the Peña Nieto government, and his arrest is a severe blow to the Mexican armed forces, which for years have supported the fight against drug trafficking and have been praised by different governments for their dedication and discipline, ”says the agency.
Cienfuegos, 72, is the highest-ranking former official to be arrested since the 2019 Texas capture of Genaro García Luna, former Secretary of Public Safety for President Felipe Calderón from 2006 to 2012, and who has pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges. .
Mike Vigil, the former head of international operations for the DEA, told the AP that when he was in Mexico in 2012 he heard of some accounts that linked Cienfuegos to corruption, although nothing that could be proven. “That was unheard of because Mexico has always put the military on a pedestal,” Vigil said. “Corruption is reaching its peak, because people who were once untouchable are now being arrested,” he added.
Under the command of General Cienfuegos, the Mexican Army was accused of human rights abuses. The worst scandal during his time at the head of the department was the massacre of suspected criminals in a warehouse in 2014.
In June of that year, soldiers murdered 22 suspected criminals in the community of Tlatlaya. Although some were killed in a first shooting with a military patrol, in which a soldier was injured, an investigation by the National Human Rights Commission concluded that at least eight, although perhaps as many as 12, of the suspects were executed when they were they had surrendered.
Although the current President has promised to fight corruption and any irregularities, the president has relied heavily on the Armed Forces for different tasks, including fighting organized crime. But unlike other governments, López Obrador has entrusted the Army with other tasks, from building infrastructure to distributing medical supplies.