The US would reopen the case against Salvador Cienfuegos if Mexico does not prosecute him: report

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Former Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos appears before Judge Carol Bagley Amon (Photo: REUTERS / Jane Rosenberg)

Through a statement, the spokesman for the United States Department of Justice, Nicole Navas Oxman, noted that the United States “reserves the right to restart a judicial process for links with drug trafficking to General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, if the government of Mexico did not do it “, this after the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) announced the exoneration of the former Secretary of National Defense during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018).

The 72-year-old military man, who returned to Mexico in mid-November after being accused by the United States of ties to the Beltrán Leyva cartel, was declared innocent by the Mexican courts, when they did not find conclusive evidence that would reveal an alleged encounter with members of said criminal organization, as the North American authorities had assured.

“He did not maintain communication with any of them, nor did he carry out acts tending to protect or assist said individuals,” a statement read.

The capture of Cienfuegos Zepeda, on October 15 at the Los Angeles Airport, USA, caused a conflict between the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and the then US president, Donald TrumpThe Mexican government complained that it had not been notified of the investigation against the former military chief.

The Obrador administration took the complaint to Attorney General William Barr. This diplomatic pressure succeeded in getting the United States Department of Justice to withdraw the drug trafficking and money laundering charges for which Cienfuegos was accused.

During his trial in the United States, the former general faced a remote hearing in a court in Brooklyn, New York, in which the Judge Carol Amon he read the charges against him in the United States.

Amon specific that the general abused his position to help the Cartel of Juan Francisco Patron, alias the “H-2”, a split of the Beltran Leyva, in charge of trafficking thousands of kilos of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin to the United States. Cienfuegos has pleaded not guilty.

While he was in prison, on several occasions his defense offered money in exchange for a trial in freedom; however, the request was rejected due to the risk of flight. According to the judges, it would be easy for a person with political connections like Cienfuegos Zepeda to escape.

At the beginning of 2021, the Mexican Prosecutor’s Office received from the neighboring government, a suitcase of at least 700 documents that founded the accusations against the general. Despite this, today he is a free man.


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Ben Oakley
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