U.S. drops drug charges against former Mexican defense minister

U.S. drops drug charges against former Mexican defense minister”

The US is to drop its charges against a Mexican former minister accused of drug trafficking and laundering money.

Ebrard said he spoke with Barr on October 26, a week before the USA elections.

General Cienfuegos, defense secretary under Mexico's then-President Enrique Peña Nieto, was arrested in October at the Los Angeles worldwide airport and accused by USA prosecutors of collaborating with one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels.

Cienfuegos, 72, was Mexico's defence minister from 2012 to 2018 under former President Enrique Pena Nieto.

He was charged in Brooklyn, New York City, with money laundering and narcotics conspiracy. In exchange for bribes, he often ensured that the military did not take action against his favored cartels and only took action against rival cartels.

Mexican officials threatened to expel USA agents after weeks of outrage at the surprise arrest of a retired military general.

Mexico's Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said on Tuesday evening in a news conference that he had a conversation with Barr following Cienfuegos' arrest, expressing Mexico's "discontent" for "the lack of information shared in the investigation" and detention of Cienfuegos. On an interesting note, Ebrard denied that this decision was related to the United States elections in any manner.

"It doesn't have anything to do with it".

Ebrard said the decision meant that security cooperation between the two nations could proceed. "That is what has been discussed, what has been agreed and what has been maintained with USA authorities". "Why are we talking about it?" But when questioned by Judge Amon, he admitted that the decision to drop the charges against Cienfuegos had been made "at the highest level of the Department of Justice", identifying Barr by name.

ON VIDEO: The road from the U.S. to Mexico What is next for Salvador Cienfuegos? This will send a wrong signal to the people involved in the drug cartels that they can get away with the crimes when they have good political connections back in Mexico. "That of a Mexican citizen who does not face charges in the United States at this moment".

It said the USA had taken the decision to seek dismissal of charges "in recognition of the strong law enforcement partnership between Mexico and the United States, and in the interests of demonstrating our united front against all forms of criminality".

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"The United States has determined that sensitive and important foreign policy considerations outweigh the government's interest in pursuing the prosecution of the defendant", prosecutors from the U.S. Eastern District of NY said in a court document unsealed on Tuesday. The filing added that "the evidence in this case is strong".

"The U.S. branch of Justice ... has given Mexico proof for this situation and resolves to proceed with participation, inside that system, to help the examination by Mexican specialists", Barr said in a joint assertion with Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero.

Had he been convicted of the charges in the USA, he would've faced at least 10 years in federal prison.

Following Cienfuegos' detention, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said it's regrettable that someone so high up in the Mexican government is accused of ties to drug traffickers.

Vigil called the decision "absolutely discouraging and disappointing", predicting that "there is more coming down the road" in terms of pardons or case closings.

"You can not allow foreign agencies to try Mexicans if there is no proof", said López Obrador, who depicted it as a national sovereignty issue.

Such politically motivated decisions will affect the morale of law enforcement agencies in the US.

Under Cienfuegos, the Mexican army was accused of frequent human rights abuses, but that was true of both his predecessors and his successor in the post.

In 2014, Cienfuegos persevered through a significant embarrassment after warriors under his order murdered 22 suspects at a grain distribution center - in any event, eight of whom were executed after they gave up, as per a common freedoms examination.

Despite what initially appeared to be a strong case in NY, the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday asked for the charges to be dismissed so Mexico could investigate Cienfuegos.

"We have no doubt that the attorney general's office will carry out ... an investigation commensurate with the prestige of Mexico and the dignity of our country", said Ebrard.

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