Former Mexican Protection Secretary Arrested in LA on Drug Trafficking and Cash Laundering Expenses


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

Two folks with information of the arrest stated Cienfuegos was taken into custody on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warrant. One of many folks stated the warrant was for drug trafficking and cash laundering fees. Each spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed 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 licensed to provide particulars of the case, stated Cienfuegos was arrested when he arrived on the Los Angeles airport together with his household. His relations had been launched and he was taken to the Metropolitan Detention Heart.

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

Cienfuegos is 72 years previous and has retired from energetic responsibility. Mexico’s Protection Division had no fast response to the arrest.

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

“There have been at all times allegations of corruption, nothing we might sink our tooth into. That was form of extraordinary as a result of Mexico has at all times put the navy on a pedestal,” stated Vigil, writer of the guide “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 stated. “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 wish to commerce down, they normally commerce up,” in search of proof in opposition to equal or higher-ranking officers. “It’s actually a precarious scenario for Mexico to have two Cupboard-level officers arrested within the U.S.”

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

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

Below 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 — through which one soldier was wounded — a human rights investigation later confirmed that at the very least eight and maybe as many as a dozen suspects had been executed after they surrendered.

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

Contact us at letters@time.com.



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