World, Americas

Mexican president backs acquittal of ex-defense chief

Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, initially apprehended in US, was absolved by Mexican authorities Thursday night

Jorge Antonio Rocha   | 15.01.2021
Mexican president backs acquittal of ex-defense chief


President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday that he supports the Mexican attorney general's decision to absolve former Secretary of National Defense, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos.

During a press conference, Lopez Obrador assured that the prosecution carried out a complete and proper investigation to definitively decide on Cienfuegos' exoneration.

On Thursday night, Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office announced that it had found no evidence against Cienfuegos of money laundering or drug trafficking, rejecting a US case against him.

"It's a decision that Prosecution takes, which my government supports. Because we maintain that impunity must end, and of course, corruption, but we also think they should not be retaliation or vengeance. And that crimes should not be invented. What's most important is the truth," said the president.

Furthermore, Lopez Obrador instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard that the file regarding the investigations and testimonies that absolved Cienfuegos be published in its entirety for anyone to read.

Cienfuegos was apprehended by US authorities at Los Angeles International Airport on Oct. 15 on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Later, the US attorney general announced that all charges would be dropped, leaving the investigation to Mexican authorities.

Ebrard expressed his support towards the prosecution decision, stating that all US evidence was investigated, which led to all allegations' acquittal.

"Moreover, in Mexico, they wouldn't even be able to apprehend Cienfuegos [with the evidence presented by the US] according to the existing laws," said the top diplomat.

The minister further explained that Mexico's dissatisfaction with the opacity in which the US authorities carried out the investigation and the subsequent apprehension of Cienfuegos led to the dismissal of all charges and his subsequent repatriation by US prosecution—taking into consideration the relevance and sensitive nature of Cienfuegos former role as secretary of national defense.

Ebrard added that other relevant elements are pending in the investigation. However, Cienfuegos' verdict is definitive, and no criminal trial can be initiated.

Cienfuegos arrived in the city of Toluca in Mexico on Nov. 18, where he was notified that an investigation against him was underway and later let go.

He served as defense secretary under former President Enrique Pena Nieto from 2012-2018.

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