Former Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda. Photo:


Now that former Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda has returned to Mexico, he will be tried in a nonmilitary Mexican court based on evidence provided by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Cienfuegos, who had faced drug-running and money-laundering charges in the United States after having been arrested in Los Angeles in October, was released by U.S. authorities and would entered Mexico as a “repatriated free man,” Ebrard said, speaking at the regular early morning press conference of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) at the National Palace, hours before the retired military general arrived back on Mexican soil.

“On his return, it is most likely that Cienfuegos will be arrested by Mexican police on similar charges to those that were dropped against him by the DOJ on Tuesday, Aug. 17,” Ebrard said.

Ebrard said that once he landed in Mexico, Cienfuegos would have “the law will be applied to him in all its force.”

He later added that an agreement had been reached between the two countries to return Cienfuegos to Mexico in order to avoid “a deterioration in the bilateral relationship.”

Mexico was not advised of the arrest of Cienfuegos before he was detained in California, which led to binational tensions regarding U.S. respect for Mexican sovereignty and concerns as to the balance of two-way cooperation on international legal matters.

Cienfuegos’ return to Mexico “is evidence that the foundations of mutual cooperation in the areas of security should be maintained because these can only exist is there respect for Mexico’s sovereignty,” Ebrard said.

…Nov. 19, 2020


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