Former Mexican Defense Minister arrested in United States

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A former Mexican Minister of Defense, General Salvador Cienfuegos, has been arrested in the United States, Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard announced Thursday without specifying the reason for the arrest, which according to the media is linked to an investigation for drug trafficking.

“The former Secretary of National Defense, General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, has been arrested at the airport in Los Angeles, California,” Ebrard tweeted.

He added that the reason for this arrest will be clarified “in the coming hours” by the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles. The Mexican prosecution, questioned, declined to comment at first.

According to Wall Street Journal, who quotes Mexican officials, Mr. Cienfuegos, a retired general, “was arrested Thursday by US authorities at the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration,” the US drug agency.

The Mexican investigative journal Proceso for his part affirmed that this arrest was “the result of an investigation for corruption and drug trafficking carried out for several years by the American Department of Justice”.

Other Mexican media said the former minister was arrested as he arrived in the United States with his family.

General Cienfuegos, 72, was Minister of Defense from 2012 to 2018 under President Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

During his tenure, the minister publicly opposed the active participation of the military in internal security tasks and in the fight against drugs, arguing that such participation had no legal basis.

Another former minister of Mr. Peña Nieto, Genaro Garcia Luna, who had held the portfolio of Public Security, is currently incarcerated in New York. He was arrested in December 2019 in Dallas, Texas on suspicion of being involved in trafficking at least 53 tons of cocaine destined for the United States.

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