Cienfuegos Zepeda, Mexico’s former, Secretary of National Defense detained at LAX

Latin America World

 Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat  Reforma

At the request of the DEA for criminal
conspiracy, money laundering and drug trafficking.

First hearing in Los Angeles at 2:30pm today

Once again it happened in the
United States.

This time it is General Salvador
Cienfuegos, head of the Defense Secretariat in Enrique Peña’s administration, who
was arrested in the United States.

He is the highest official of the
Mexican Government, ever captured abroad.

Chief of the Army for the entire
term of Enrique Peña Nieto, General Cienfuegos was arrested, at the request of
the DEA, at the Los Angeles Airport, California, on charges of criminal
conspiracy, money laundering and drug trafficking.

The General was traveling with
his family, the family members names were not disclosed but were released.

Tlatlaya, 22 people were executed in June 2014 by the military.

Cienfuegos, 72, was a key piece
in Peña Nieto’s security strategy, which tried to distinguish itself from that
of his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, with the decrease in confrontations and
with the presumption that they privileged intelligence operations over those of

With Cienfuegos in command, drug
lords such as the brothers Miguel and Omar Treviño, leaders of Los Zetas,
captured in 2013 and 2015, or Servando Gómez, “La Tuta”, of the Michoacán
Family, captured in February 2015, were captured.

In 2013, armed self-defense
groups flourished in the Tierra Caliente region, in Michoacán, which allegedly
rose up against drug cartels and were sponsored by military forces.

During Peña’s administration, the
country’s most important drug lord, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, was captured in February 2014 in Mazatlán by DEA
troops and a special body of the Mexican Navy.

A year later, “El Chapo”
escaped from the high-security Altiplano prison to be captured in 2016 by
federal police.

In none of the actions against “El Chapo” did the Army stand out. During the Cienfuegos
administration, the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) -now identified as
one of the largest generators of violence in the country- gained strength to
become the second most powerful drug trafficking organization in Mexico,
according to the latest annual report from the DEA.

Cienfuegos promoted the Internal
Security Law, to provide a legal framework for the actions of the armed forces
in matters of public security. Although in the first years of the Peña
administration, violence related to organized crime declined, in the second
half of his administration, homicides grew rapidly, reaching record levels in
the last 20 years.

The management of the former head
of the Sedena was marked by corruption. Only in the last year of the Peña Nieto
government, the ASF detected irregularities in 88 of 93 contracts for an amount
of 603 million pesos. Irregularities in purchases of espionage equipment,
weapons and military equipment were also pointed out.

The Cienfuegos Army was involved
in serious human rights violations, such as the case of Tlatlaya, in Edomex,
where 22 people were executed in June 2014 by the military.


While the DEA ordered the arrest,
it is unclear if this was a joint effort with Mexico.

Although the arrest is yet to be clear
if it is connected to testimony in the Chapo trial, in the trial at least two
witnesses testified about the collusion between high government officials such
as Genaro Garcia Luna and organized crime, and the method of pay off payment to
the high-level government officials, usually at the Mexico City airport in conjunction
with the arrival of drugs.