US drops charges against former Mexican defense minister accused of drug trafficking

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The attorneys general of the United States and Mexico, William Barr and Alejandro Gertz, announced yesterday in a joint statement that they will seek the withdrawal of charges by the United States against the general. Salvador Cienfuegos, former Minister of Defense of Mexico.

Cienfuegos, who was in office between 2012 and 2018 during the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, was arrested on October 15 at the Los Angeles airport for crimes related to drug trafficking. According to US investigators, Cienfuegos collaborated with the H-2 cartel in exchange for bribes: it informed them of the operations of the US anti-drug forces and saved them from the harassment of the Mexican army.

The operation against Cienfuegos, carried out with the utmost secrecy, shocked relations between the US and Mexico. The Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López ObradorHe slipped that the arrest was for “political or other reasons” and in Mexico it was criticized as an attack on the country’s sovereignty.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard, even raised the question of the ability of the DEA, the US anti-drug police, to operate in Mexico. López Obrador has sought to maintain a good relationship with the Government of Donald Trump, despite the attacks of the US president on Mexican immigrants and his electoral promise to build a wall on its southern border and have the neighboring country pay for it. In the last days, López Obrador has not congratulated Joe Biden for his electoral victory in the US presidential elections, as many international partners have done, from European countries to Canada, the northern neighbor.

Cienfuegos, which was transferred a few days ago to a New York federal jail, where his trial was to be held, today has a hearing with the judge of his case. It will confirm the withdrawal of charges and his return to Mexico, where “he will be investigated and, if necessary, charges will be filed,” the statement said.

The text also adds that the withdrawal of charges is made “in the interest of demonstrating our united front against all types of crime.” The arrest and prosecution of Cienfuegos were a window open to the penetration of drug trafficking in the highest spheres of power in Mexico. Now It will depend on the Mexican justice.

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