The former head of the Army during the Government of Enrique Peña Nieto (from 2012 to 2018), General Salvador Cienfuegos, has been arrested in the United States at the request of the US Drug Agency, as confirmed by the Mexican authorities to this diary. The former secretary was captured at the Los Angeles airport, in California, while traveling with his family, according to local US media.
“I have been informed by Ambassador Christopher Landau of the United States that the former Secretary of National Defense, General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, has been detained,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard reported on Twitter Thursday night. The Mexican military man was head of this key portfolio in the continuation of the war against drug trafficking that Peña Nieto continued until the end of his term and a critic of the militarization of the country.
At the 10th anniversary of the war that Felipe Calderón began in 2006 and the number of murdered reached more than 100,000 —in addition to nearly 30,000 disappeared and 35,000 displaced— Cienfuegos said he was in favor of the Army leaving the streets. “Do you want us to be in the barracks? Ahead. I would be the first to raise not one, two hands so that we can do our constitutional tasks, “said the general in 2016, recalling that the ministry he headed was created for foreign security and that internal security is in charge of the Ministry of the Interior.
General Cienfuegos then spoke frankly about the uncertainty in which Mexican soldiers, commissioned by President Felipe Calderón to fight the cartels since December 11, 2006, move. Since then, military operations have been pointed out by the high rate of lethality produced by the excessive use of force and by repeated human rights violations. “What we want? That the armed forces have a framework [legal] that he supports them when they have to act, that we are not singled out for issues that are specific to the operations we carry out … We would love for the police to do their homework for what they are, “he said.
These words now resonate after the mandates of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on the militarization of the country. The creation of the National Guard, a body that he defended shortly after taking power in 2018, made up mostly of soldiers and also federal police officers under the orders of another general, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, today Secretary of Defense and Cienfuegos’s successor in office.