Mexico’s president has promised to clean up the country’s armed forces after a former defense minister was arrested in the US this week for drug trafficking and money laundering.
Salvador Cienfuegos, Mexico’s defense chief from 2012 to 2018, was arrested Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport, shocking security institutions in Mexico.
US authorities did not warn their Mexican counterparts about the operation.
According to documents released by US federal attorneys in New York on Friday, prosecutors accused Cienfuegos of conspiracy in producing and distributing heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in the US between December 2015 and February 2017.
Prosecutors said the evidence against the retired general, who was nicknamed “the godfather”, contained thousands of Blackberry messages between Cienfuegos and cartel members which were intercepted by the authorities.
Lopez Obrador, who came to power in 2018 and vowed to eradicate corruption, added that the arrests were a clear indicator that Mexico was previously ruled by a drug trafficking government and undoubtedly a mafia government.
Former Mexican Public Security Minister Genaro Garcia Luna was arrested in Texas in December 2019 on charges of accepting large bribes to allow the notorious Sinaloa drug Cartel to move drugs into the US, which he denied.
The recent arrests could lead US authorities to pursue more important criminals, said Mike Vigil, former head of international operations at the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).