Former Mexican Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos was arrested Thursday in the United States when he landed at Los Angeles airport. The detention is part of an investigation led by US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
Cienfuegos commanded the Mexican Defense during the government of ex-president Enrique Peña Nieto, marked by armed clashes against cartels across the country. Several of Mexico’s former high-ranking officials have been accused of contributing to drug traffickers.
The detention happens less than three weeks of the US presidential election. President Donald Trump has made drug repression one of his main flags, although he has made little progress in this area since taking office in 2017.
The President of Mexico, Manuel López Obrador, criticized the gestation of Peña Nieto and said he was informed of the arrest and Cienfuegos only this Friday morning (16). Obrador said the incident proves that his predecessors were responsible for an increase in corruption.
“We are not going to cover up anyone,” said the Mexican president in a statement.
Mexican Chancellor Marcelo Ebrard said on a social network that he had been informed of the arrest by the US ambassador to Mexico. He did not confirm the reason for the arrest and said the Mexican consul in Los Angeles is expected to review the charges this Friday.
The Mexican magazine “Proceso” reported that the arrest was “the result of a multi-year corruption investigation into drug trafficking.” According to the magazine, which cites US government sources, the general was investigated in the country “for at least 10 years”.
Diplomatic sources told Reuters that Cienfuegos, who is 72, traveled with his family. This detention of the former minister in the USA is the second of a high official of the Peña Nieto administration, which also faces corruption charges.
Former Mexican Public Security Secretary Genaro García Luna, accused of conspiracy to traffick at least 53 tons of cocaine to the United States, was detained in Dallas (Texas) in December 2019 and is being held in New York.