Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was Secretary of National Defense throughout Peña Nieto’s six-year term: from December 1, 2012 to November 30, 2018. “Even if I leave the troop, I will continue to be a soldier, I will continue to be your partner,” he said before members of the Army Mexican hours before leaving office.
His time at the head of the Armed Forces was marked by controversy. One of them is his suggestion to legalize the poppy; another, when he refused to allow the military to be questioned in the case of the 43 missing students. However, Cienfuegos left without suspicion. If it is confirmed that he was arrested for a drug trafficking matter, it would be a surprise. And an unprecedented fact, never seen before.
Mexico City, October 16 (However) .– The Dec 10, 2019, when the arrest in Dallas, Texas, of Genaro Garcia Luna, there were surprises and not so much among the community journalistic and among security specialists. Surprise, because it was the former Mexican official highest ranking accused of conspiracy to traffic cocaine and accept bribes from Sinaloa Cartel. And not so much, because for years, even when it was Secretary of Public Safety of the then President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, there were specific indications about his alleged participation in criminal acts.
But the arrest last night of General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, a Mexican military man with the highest decorations and former secretary of National Defense, did fall like a bomb. As a big surprise. He was certainly a commander in states where the drug cartels settled: Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit, Zacatecas, Federal District, State of Mexico, Hidalgo and Morelos, among others. But except for his controversial role in the case of the 43 normalistas disappeared in Iguala, when he refused to allow the military to be investigated for their possible participation, he ended a six-year term (that of Enrique Peña Nieto) with a file or with suspicions; He was not known to be associated with direct acts of corruption or with alleged criminal groups.
“I have been informed by Ambassador Christopher Landau of the United States that the former Secretary of National Defense, General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, has been detained at the Los Angeles Airport, California,” said Marcelo Luis Ebrard Casaubón, Secretary of Relations Outdoors, at night. The first data: that Cienfuegos was detained by the US authorities upon arrival in Los Angeles. He was with members of his family.
Citing “diplomatic sources”, Milenio TV confirmed that the DEA’s request to arrest General Cienfuegos was for drug trafficking, in the form of drug transportation and distribution. In addition, said that communication medium, those diplomatic sources confirmed that the former head of the Sedena was transferred to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center, which is located right in the heart of that city.
“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, ”Ebrard Casaubón added with extreme care. As far as is known, the General is not investigated in Mexico nor does he appear in any criminal case. It is the United States that requires it.
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 confirmed that Cienfuegos was arrested for a drug trafficking matter, it would be a surprise. And an unprecedented fact, never seen before.
Video: La Jornada – The former head of Sedena, Salvador Cienfuegos, is arrested in Los Angeles (La Jornada)
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During his tenure at the head of the National Defense General Salvador Cienfuegos had controversial moments, such as when he spoke in favor of the poppy and the removal of the Army from the streets. Regarding links with drug trafficking, until now there is no information that directly links General Cienfuegos, the times that his name has appeared in journalistic notes have been by third parties who are members of the same Army.
In February 2013, the daily New York Times published that the United States Government had exerted pressure to prevent Major General Augusto Moisés García Ochoa from being appointed as head of Defense for alleged links between the military and drug trafficking. Despite the fact that Enrique Peña Nieto did not appoint him as Secretary of Defense and chose Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, both retained General García Ochoa and assigned him the command of the XI Military Region based in Torreón, Coahuila.
In October 2015, more than a year after the attack on the Ayotzinapa normalistas, General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, then head of the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), said that the soldiers of the 27 Infantry Battalion based in Iguala , Guerrero, did not have to testify about the disappearance of the 43 students because, they indicated, there was no clear indication that involved them in the events of the night of September 26, 2014.
Another controversial moment occurred in 2016 when he said that the military did not study to persecute criminals. “They want us to be in the barracks, go ahead, I would be the first to raise not one, both hands so that we can go and do our constitutional tasks. We do not ask to be there, we do not feel comfortable, none of us who are with you here study to persecute criminals. Our idea, our role is different and it is being denatured, we are doing tasks that do not correspond to us because there is no one who can do them, ”General Salvador Cienfuegos declared on December 8, 2016.
In 2018, the last year of his tenure within the Secretary of Defense, Cienfuegos suggested that legalizing marijuana could help reduce violence in Guerrero, a leading poppy-producing state. “It’s already on the table. I think it may be a way out of the problem. Here the only thing that should be trying to see how it would be served is the safety of those farmers who are no longer going to sell to criminals, but are going to sell to the government to make morphine, which is to address the problem of pain in patients, ”he declared on October 6, 2018.
THE CIENFUEGOS RACE
Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was Secretary of National Defense during the entire term of Peña Nieto: from December 1, 2012 to November 30, 2018.
Capture orders were issued, and will be issued more, against the military for the Ayotzinapa case, affirms AMLO
The General was born in Mexico City on June 14, 1948, and his military career began with his discharge from the Mexican Army on January 23, 1964. He studied at the National Defense College, where he obtained the academic degree of Master in Military Administration for Security and National Defense, and also studied at the Higher School of War, acquiring the degree of Diploma of General Staff.
As Brigadier General, he was director of the Heroic Military College from 1997 to 2000. In addition, as a General of Division, he was commander of the Fifth Military Region [que comprende los estados de Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit, Zacatecas y Aguascalientes]; of the Ninth Military Region [la de Guerrero]; of the First Military Region [ que abarca la Ciudad de México, Estado de México, Hidalgo y Morelos], and in the Seventh Military Region [que comprende Chiapas y Tabasco].
General Cienfuegos has been a Military and Air Attaché at the Mexican embassies in Japan and South Korea.
On December 1, 2018, during the ceremony of Delivery and Reception of the Secretary of National Defense to those in charge of the Government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, he announced his retirement.
A day before, the still head of the Sedena said goodbye to the troops in a tribute that was made to him at the Heroico Colegio Militar. There was present General Luis Cresencio Sandoval González, who hours later would take his position as Secretary of National Defense, of whom he said: he is a professional and brave man. “Even if I leave the troop, I will continue to be a soldier, I will continue to be your partner,” Cienfuegos said then, his voice broken.