Mexico president accuses DEA of fabricating general’s case

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MEXICO CITY (AP) – A day after Mexico’s attorney general’s office announced it was dropping the drug trafficking case against its former defense secretary, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Friday that the The US Drug Enforcement Administration had “fabricated” the charges against the retired general. Salvador Cienfuegos.

López Obrador suggested that there may be political motivations behind the arrest by US authorities of Cienfuegos at Los Angeles International Airport in October, noting that the investigation had been ongoing for years, but that the arrest came shortly before the US presidential elections.

The president said Mexican prosecutors dropped the case because the evidence shared by the United States had no value to prove he had committed a crime.

“Why did they conduct the investigation like that?” López Obrador said. “Without support, without proof?”

The president said that the evidence shared by the United States against Cienfuegos would be made public, as people should see and it had been a strike against the prestige of Mexico.

In a statement Thursday night, Mexico’s attorney general’s office went beyond announcing the case was closed. His statement fully clears the general.

“We came to the conclusion that General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda never had a meeting with the criminal organization that the American authorities investigated and that he never had any communication with them, nor committed acts to protect or assist these people, ”the office said in a statement.

He said Cienfuegos had not been found to have illegal or abnormal income, and no evidence was found “that he issued an order to favor the criminal group in question.”

A seven-year investigation by U.S. authorities was completely refuted by Cienfuegos within five days of U.S. evidence being presented, the statement said.

All charges have been dropped and Cienfuegos, who was never arrested after being fired by US officials, is no longer under investigation.

Gladys McCormick, associate professor of history at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, said the only surprise was that Mexico didn’t put on a better show reviewing Cienfuegos.

“You would think they would at least have followed some semblance of an investigation, even if it was just to put a little facade on the illusion that the rule of law exists,” McCormick said. “On the Mexican side, this signals the deep control of the army as an institution over power. It also shows the level of complicity involved in this case.

López Obrador has given the military more responsibility and power than any president in recent history, relying on them to build massive infrastructure projects and more recently to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to their increased security responsibilities.

Cienfuegos was arrested in Los Angeles in October, after being secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in 2019. He was charged with conspiring with the H-2 cartel in Mexico to smuggle thousands of pounds of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and marijuana while he was Secretary of Defense from 2012 to 2018.

Prosecutors said the intercepted messages showed Cienfuegos had accepted bribes in return for assurances that the military was not taking action against the cartel and that operations had been launched against its rivals. He has also been accused of introducing cartel leaders to other corrupt Mexican officials.

Under pressure from Mexico’s implicit threats to restrict or …

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