Former Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos. Photo: NSS Oaxaca


Based on the evidence presented to Mexico by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Mexico’s Attorney General (FGR) dropped all legal charges against the country’s former defense secretary, Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, late Thursday, Jan. 14, an decision that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) openly supported during his morning press conference on Friday, Jan. 15.

Cienfuegos, who was detained in Los Angeles by DEA agents in October on charges of drug-running and money-laundering, was repatriated to Mexico one month later after complaints by the AMLO administration that the United States had acted without consulting Mexican officials.

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

At that time, the Mexican government said that Cienfuegos would be tried in a nonmilitary Mexican court based on evidence provided by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

According to some critics, AMLO, who has a strong relationship with the Mexican armed forces — which he has nurtured and expanded since taking office, creating his own elite force known as the National Guard (GN) — was pressured by Mexican military brass to get Cienfuegos home and have charges against him dropped.

During his press conference Friday, AMLO said that should the DEA later “turn over more extensive evidence against Cienfuegos,” implying that the United States had edited the information it handed over, the Mexican government would review the charges against the former general.

The Mexican president went on to say that the DEA had “fabricated” the charges against Cienfuegos, adding that the law should not be used as a tool of revenge or political payback.

…Jan. 15, 2021

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