Mexico’s former defense minister arrested by DEA at Los Angeles airport

U.S. authorities late Thursday night detained Mexico’s former defense minister, the retired General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, at the Los Angeles International Airport.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard in a tweet said the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, told him Cienfuegos Zepeda was arrested on a warrant from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Eighteenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey welcomes Mexico’s Secretary of National Defense General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda and Secretary of the Navy Admiral Sober’n Sanz for United States – Mexico Defense Chiefs Strategy Dialogue at the National Defense University on Fort McNair, Washington, July 15, 2013. (DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp)

The United States has not confirmed his detention and the charges against him have not yet been announced.

Ebrard said he was waiting for the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles to inform him of the charges but expected to hear by the end of the day. He added that the 72-year-old retired general would receive normal consular services.

“If we’re not talking about a narco state, one can certainly talk about a narco government, and without doubt, about a government of mafiosi,” Mexican President López Obrador said to the Associated Press. “We’re cleaning up, purifying public life.”

Cienfuegos Zepeda served as defense secretary from 2012 to 2018 under former President Enrique Peña Nieto. He used the military to launch a widespread campaign against drug cartels in the nation.


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