Mexico shakes a hard-hitting drug scandal, the consequences of which could extend even to the country’s top leadership.
Former Mexican Defense Minister and Army Commander, General, arrested in Los Angeles on Thursday Salvador Cienfuegos, 72, is indicted to be “El Padrino” himself, the mysterious drug king of Mexico.
Helsingin Sanomat said on the arrest on Friday and The New York Times has now dug up the background to the arrest in an extensive article. The background to the arrest has also been clarified by news agencies, for example Reuters and AP mixed Los Angeles Times.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Cienfuegos, as Secretary of Defense, called drug traffickers “sick, crazy beasts”.
According to the charges, he himself was like that.
“El Padrino” means godfather. The same term has been used for a great many of the leading figures in the Mexican drug trade, such as the leader of the great drug cartel of the 1970s and 1980s. Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardosta.
U.S. authorities had long suspected that the Mexican drug trade had a very high-ranking protector in the armed forces. It eavesdropped on a drug cartel whose members repeatedly spoke of collaborating with “El Padrino”.
One cartel member once mentioned “El Padrino” appearing on television right now. The researchers also turned on the television and saw Cienfuegos. According to The New York Times, this led them in the footsteps of Cienfuegos in the multi-year “Operation Padrino”.
A new phase in the operation began when General Cienfuegos, Mexico’s defense minister from 2012 to 2018, was charged in New York on Friday with money laundering and heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and cannabis trafficking from late 2015 to early 2017.
According to the charges, the Minister of Defense, who retired in 2018, was a partner in the infamous H-2 drug cartel, the former Béltran-Leyva cartel, and directed anti-drug operations only at competitors of this cartel.
United States arrested and prosecuted another high-ranking Mexican just ten months ago.
He was the head of the Mexican Central Criminal Police from 2001 to 2005 and later the Director of National Security in the Ministerial Wash. Genaro García Luna.
He is accused of taking bribes from the Sinaola drug cartel and of participating in cocaine smuggling. At the time of the alleged crimes, the Sinaola cartel was led by the infamous “El Chapo” i.e. Joaquín Guzmán Loera. The Sinaola cartel has at times also fought against the H 2 cartel.
Mexico populist president Andrés Manuel López Obrador defended the defense forces and complained that dishonest actors were damaging the reputation of the entire institution. At the same time, he recalled that both detainees were the choices of his predecessors and praised the current leadership of the Defense Forces.
However, the situation is embarrassing for the President. First, the arrests were made by the United States, reflecting Mexico’s difficulty in eradicating the corruption of its leaders. And secondly, the President has relied very heavily on the Defense Forces, whose reputation has now been badly tarnished.
The alleged drug deals by the General and the Secretary of Defense just a few years ago would hardly have been successful without the knowledge and help of some of Cienfuegos ’close colleagues. According to the charges, the defense minister even introduced the cartel leaders and the Mexican authorities to each other against bribes just a few years ago. Many of them may still hold senior positions in the ministry and the armed forces.
Mexico placed the main responsibility for the drug war instead of the police in the time of the previous presidents, and the mission is always led by the current Minister of Defense. During the current presidency, the defense forces have also been tasked with controlling migratory flows through Mexico, for example, and “cleansing” ports and customs of corruption.
President has rolled responsibility for corruption to its predecessors for months before the current revelations. He has said he wants a referendum to decide whether to accuse the five previous presidents since 1988 of corruption and “unfair” economic policies.
The predecessors are Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto, whose Minister of Defense was just Cienfuegos.
However, if the revelations continue and extend to the current leadership, the people may also want a sixth name on the list: the current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.