Mexico Clears Salvador Cienfuegos, Ex-Defense Minister, in Drug Case – The New York Times

The Justice Department suddenly dropped the case versus him in November, and he was allowed to return to Mexico.Late Thursday night, the Mexican lawyer generals workplace said in a statement that General Cienfuegos– who served as defense minister in President Enrique Peña Nietos administration from 2012 to 2018– “never had any encounter with the members of the criminal organization. The news is a brand-new blow to U.S. officials, especially those in the State Department and in Congress, who were stunned by the Justice Departments choice to totally free General Cienfuegos and allow him to face justice in Mexico.Relations between the United States and Mexico over security operations have become increasingly laden given that the generals arrest.”It would be nearly suicidal,” Mr. Ebrard said.But the reality that General Cienfuegos will face no charges is not altogether unexpected in a nation where impunity for the well-connected is exceptionally high, even for minor criminal activities, and where more than 90 percent of homicides go unsolved.In its statement, the attorney generals workplace stated that General Cienfuegos was made mindful on Jan. 9 of the charges versus him by the U.S. authorities, as well as of the results of the Mexican authorities own investigation.

MEXICO CITY– The authorities in Mexico state they will bring no charges against a previous leading military official who was jailed in the United States in 2015 on drug-trafficking and corruption charges, only to be sent home at the request of the annoyed Mexican government.The former defense minister, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, had been implicated by the U.S. authorities of taking kickbacks in exchange for safeguarding drug cartel leaders. He was apprehended at the demand of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Los Angeles in October.His total exoneration in Mexico came as a shocking about-face after the authorities had guaranteed to bring the full weight of the Mexican justice system to bear in the case. In November, the nations foreign minister stated that not doing anything after having demanded the generals go back to Mexico would be “almost self-destructive.”General Cienfuegos was apparently referred to as “El Padrino,” or The Godfather, by one of Mexicos a lot of violent drug cartels. Authorities stated General Cienfuegos directed military operations far from the criminal group in exchange for large amounts of cash. The Justice Department quickly dropped the case against him in November, and he was permitted to return to Mexico.Late Thursday night, the Mexican attorney generals office stated in a declaration that General Cienfuegos– who served as defense minister in President Enrique Peña Nietos administration from 2012 to 2018– “never ever had any encounter with the members of the criminal organization.”They also stated he had actually not provided any sort of security to cartel members and had never ever received any “unlawful earnings.”General Cienfuegos, who was never ever placed under arrest in Mexico in spite of the evidence provided by U.S. officials, has now been cleared of all charges. The news is a brand-new blow to U.S. officials, especially those in the State Department and in Congress, who were stunned by the Justice Departments decision to complimentary General Cienfuegos and allow him to face justice in Mexico.Relations between the United States and Mexico over security operations have actually ended up being increasingly stuffed considering that the generals arrest. In December, Mexican lawmakers approved legislation to manage the activities of foreign agents in the country, potentially limiting cooperation with American narcotics officers.The new law was welcomed with immense aggravation by U.S. authorities, including William P. Barr, then the attorney general of the United States, who stated in a declaration that the expense would make “cooperation in between our nations harder.”Mike Vigil, a previous chief of global operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration, informed The Associated Press that clearing General Cienfuegos “might be the straw that broke the camels back as far as U.S.-Mexico cooperation in counter-drug activities.”Yet General Cienfuegoss exoneration has actually also triggered outrage in Mexico, especially considered that the Mexican authorities had actually sworn to completely investigate the allegations against him.”The exoneration of Salvador Cienfuegos reveals that the armed forces are untouchable,” Denise Dresser, a political expert and frequent federal government critic, stated on Twitter. “They act above the law.”The Mexican armed force is an increasingly central pillar of President Andrés Manuel López Obradors technique to take on Mexicos skyrocketing rates of violence. It serves numerous other roles, too, including running airports and distributing the coronavirus vaccine. Under Mr. López Obradors government, which took office in December 2018, military costs has actually grown by nearly 40 percent, according to local media. The defense ministrys spending plan has actually outpaced the overall gotten by eight other federal firms combined, consisting of the foreign ministry, the interior ministry and the economy ministry.General Cienfuegoss arrest had actually left Mexicos military especially incensed, with army officials pushing the government to take action.Still, at a news conference in November, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard stated that “it would be really costly” for Mexico to “not do anything” after having actually asked for the charges against the previous defense chief to be dropped and for him to be returned house.”It would be almost suicidal,” Mr. Ebrard said.But the fact that General Cienfuegos will face no charges is not completely unexpected in a country where impunity for the well-connected is incredibly high, even for minor crimes, and where more than 90 percent of murders go unsolved.In its declaration, the attorney general of the United Statess workplace stated that General Cienfuegos was warned on Jan. 9 of the charges against him by the U.S. authorities, along with of the results of the Mexican authorities own examination. The general was then permitted to use evidence in his defense.Less than a week later on, all charges were dropped.

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