Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was head of the Sedena during Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration
Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, former Army chief, was exonerated by the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR) and with it a cycle of crisis was closed among the Armed Forces (Armed Forces) and the president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who gave in not to sow doubts against the institution that is a key part of his government.
Analysts consulted by Infobae Mexico they agreed that although, the FGR is autonomous and found no evidence of drug trafficking to the general As indicated by the United States authorities, the fact that he is free of charges represents a vote of confidence to the armed forces. Well a process against the institution would have been initiated that operates with officers who just two years ago were under the command of Cienfuegos Zepeda.
“In the Public opinion remains the perception of impunity and the perception that the Army managed to impose its decision on the president and that it is definitely protecting them, that cannot be removed by anyone, but legally the general is already free and without charges, “he said. Raúl Benítez Manaut, specialist in National Security and armed forces issues.
During two years of mandate, López Obrador has assigned more than 30 tasks to the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) as well as the Mexican Navy. These include the construction and administration of four airports, the construction of 2,700 bank branches of the Ministry of Welfare.
In the US, the general was accused of being linked to the H-2 Cartel, a remnant of Los Beltrán Leyva led by Juan Francisco Patrón Sánchez (Photo: File)
As well as a dozen functions expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as vaccination, safeguarding hospitals and hiring medical personnel. Coupled with control of ports and customs; as Public Security tasks by supporting the consolidation of the National Guard with recruitment, training or construction of its 248 bases.
For that reason, analysts have warned about the militarization process that AMLO accentuated, thereby betraying his campaign promise to return the military to their barracks.
So that prosecuting Cienfuegos Zepeda would have triggered a persecution against those who were subordinate to him and currently remain in relevant positions, as is the case of the general secretary of the Sedena, Luis Cresencio Sandoval. Added to the unprecedented burden that the president has placed on the military, the relationship would have been cracked.
“Is a vote of confidence towards the armed forces because, if General Cienfuegos was criminally prosecuted, in a structure as vertical as the Mexican Army or the Navy, several of those who were under his orders in those years could be suspected of complicity”, Indicated Alexei Chévez Silveti, consultant on Security issues.
AMLO has assigned more than 30 tasks to the armed forces like never before (Photo: lopezobrador.org.mx)
The FGR determined the non-exercise of criminal action against the former head of the Army (2012-2018), after analyzing more than 743 pages of evidence provided by the US Department of Justice. And exactly three months after the highest ranking Mexican military officer was arrested on four drug-related charges in Los Angeles California.
Thus, it was concluded that Cienfuegos never had any encounter with the members of the H-2 Cartel and did not maintain communication with them. Nor did it take actions to protect or help members of this criminal group. In addition, the analysis of your assets and compliance with your tax obligations, there were no data or signs that he had received illegal income or his fortune grew abnormally, according to their perceptions in public service.
“The critical period that opened on October 15 closes, the case that lasted three months and on the Mexican side was what was expected, al receive pressure from the Army for President López Obrador to ask President Trump for the return of Cienfuegos and for the Department of Justice to drop the charges, ”said Benítez Manaut, an academic at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
The general was arrested on October 15 of last year, after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) began to investigate in 2013 without informing the government of Mexico for at least seven years. He passed 34 days in prison and was returned on November 18 to Mexico, after the charges were dismissed by the Department of Justice with previous efforts by the López Obrador government. Between 2015 and 2017, the military would have operated for the transfer of narcotics with the remaining faction of The Beltran Leyva, according to indictments in the Eastern District Court of New York.
The unit headed by Alejandro Gertz Manero exonerated the general (Photo: Cuartoscuro)
The promise was that the general would be investigated in his country, the US government agreed to let him go by favoring cooperative relations between allied countries. Therefore, the North American authorities provided test data in their possession and with which, prosecutors for the Eastern District Court of New York considered to have built a strong case. However, in the US they left the door open to reopen the case in the future, although now the FGR has decided not to proceed.
Was On January 9, the general learned of the accusations made by the US authorities, as well as the investigations of the FGR, for which had access to the entire file, as appropriate. Since then, Cienfuegos Zepeda provided evidence to prove his innocence. While the prosecution did the same to get evidence in the case.
“What the president is protecting them, [al Ejército], of that there is no doubt, because it is very pro Armed Forces. The Prosecutor’s Office is independent but the prosecutor and the president have a very close relationship“Added the UNAM researcher and added that It remains to be seen if the new government of Joe Biden will show interest in retaking the case.
Even though the chancellor Marcelo Ebrard He said that it would be “suicidal” not to investigate Cienfuegos and López Obrador promised not to protect anyone; Benítez Manaut and Chévez Silveti considered that One of the reasons why the exoneration would have been given was because of the dismissal of evidence that in Mexico has no judicial value and the DEA obtained illegally, such as wiretapping or interception of communications.
Benítez Manaut said that even though the FGR is autonomous, Gertz Manero’s relationship with the president is very close (PHOTO: UNAM / CUARTOSCURO.COM)
“Me I couldn’t speak of impunity, because you have to remember that all the recordings they (the DEA) have were illegally obtained in MexicoSo they cannot be admitted as evidence, in the United States yes, but not here, ”Chévez Silveti reiterated.
The analyst highlighted that a relevant point was the fact that the FGR had not found accounts or assets derived from alleged corruption, one of the areas in which the US government pays special attention.
At the same time, projected that the case could serve to “turn the page” in the relations of cooperation and trust between the security agencies of the two countries, because the links were seriously affected and with a distance that had not occurred in recent years. Meanwhile, the US government will continue to suffer from having acted unilaterally with an ally, for which it caused great animosity among the armed forces.
For its part, the team of lawyers representing the general indicated to this medium that for now they would not offer a position in this regard and were only aware of the information issued by the FGR.
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