Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda: Mexican ex-minister charged with drug trafficking

Published by Mohamed El Aaboudi
Date publication Saturday, 17 October 2020 02:17

A former Mexican defence minister has been charged with drug trafficking and laundering money while holding public office, US prosecutors say.

Gen Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was arrested at Los Angeles airport on Thursday.

He is due to make a court appearance on four charges in California on Friday.

His charges include conspiracy to distribute heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana to the US.

Prosecutors accuse Mr Cienfuegos, a retired general known as "The Godfather", of helping the H-2 Cartel - "an extremely violent Mexican drug-trafficking organisation" - smuggle drugs into the US.

"In exchange for bribe payments, he permitted the H-2 Cartel - a cartel that routinely engaged in wholesale violence, including torture and murder - to operate with impunity in Mexico," prosecutors alleged in a court document released on Friday.

Prosecutors say they have evidence of communications between Gen Cienfuegos and a senior leader of the H-2 Cartel.

They have requested that Mr Cienfuegos be held in detention until his trial, arguing the general poses "a significant risk of flight".

Should he be convicted, the former defence minister could face a jail term of ten years or more, prosecutors say.

Earlier, the Mexican government confirmed to the BBC that Gen Cienfuegos was arrested on a US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warrant.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the arrest "serves to illustrate that the main problem in Mexico is corruption".

President López Obrador, who was elected on an anti-corruption platform in 2018, has accused his predecessors of running a "narco-government" that allowed corruption.

Source: BBC