Mexican prosecutors clear ex-defense chief accused by US

18 Janvier, 2021, 02:56 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Mexico has said it would drop criminal charges against former defence minister Salvador Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos was arrested in the USA in October on money laundering and drug-related charges that suggested a connection to the H-2 drug cartel.

Scrutiny of Cienfuegos' wealth and tax obligations uncovered no evidence that he had received illegal income, it said.

And now, to the surprise of many, the general has been released.

The USA Department of Justice (DOJ) mentioned it's "deeply dissatisfied" by Mexico's resolution to shut its investigation in opposition to former Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos, after the Mexican legal professional normal's workplace determined not press expenses.

"The United States Department of Justice fully stands by its investigation" of Salvador Cienfuegos, a department spokesperson said, saying that investigation materials released by Mexico on the case were "not fabricated". The nation's Foreign Affairs Ministry then released 751 pages of evidence put together by the US that was meant to assist Mexican investigators.

The fallout from the case has soured relations with Washington ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's swearing in next week.

"Now they have created a major, major source of friction with the USA, and that could really hobble not only this investigation but other investigations that President (Lopez Obrador) is really keen on", said Hope.

Mexico said the failure to alert officials before the arrest marked "a before and after" in bilateral ties. "I don't think so either", said Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope.

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"We are getting further away from the autonomous accountability and transparency mechanism that would be needed down the line to break high level corruption and collusion. between the state and crime groups", he added.

The U.S. investigation published by the Mexican government appeared to be nearly entirely based on messages picked up from a Blackberry device.

Cienfuegos, who served as Mexico's defense secretary between 2012 and 2018, was arrested at the Los Angeles airport in October and charged with counts of drug trafficking and money laundering in connection with the powerful H-2 drug cartel.

Friday's released document includes text messages, often misspelled, between "Thor", "Superman", "Spartacus", "Samantha", and "Iron Man", suspects being tracked by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in 2015 and 2016 whose chatter apparently identified Cienfuegos as an ally of drug cartels during the previous government.

One source with knowledge of the situation said the case failed to establish ownership of the Blackberry. The Eastern District of NY did not respond to a request for comment.

"Making public the entire file provided to the FGR will undoubtedly impact cooperation and information sharing, at least in the short term", Maureen Meyer, Mexico Director at the think-tank Washington Office on Latin America, said of the Mexican attorney general's office.

The president added that if evidence surfaces against others mentioned in the USA investigation of Cienfuegos, Mexico could pursue cases against them.

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