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Cienfuegos: in a month he goes from detainee in the US to a free man in Mexico

Salvador Cienfuegos, former head of the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena), arrived in Mexico yesterday, dressed in a suit and tie, as a free man and, according to what he said yesterday in a court in New York, without fear of persecution in the country .

The retired general arrived at 6:40 p.m. at the Toluca airport, in a private jet of the United States Government, and half an hour later he left home with the commitment that he will attend the investigation against him.

The arrival of the military man to Mexico occurred nine hours after he appeared in a United States Court where the judge of the Eastern District of New York, Carol Bagley Amon, accepted the agreement that dismisses the charges of drug trafficking and laundering against the former head of the Secretariat of the National Defense.

The judge acknowledged having “limited authority” to prevent the government of her country from dropping the charges against the soldier, even if she had wanted to. “It’s hard to get the government to prosecute someone they don’t want to prosecute,” he said.

With this, the Mexican military was “cleared of criminal charges” in the United States and was placed at the disposal of the US Marshal, the federal police agency of the United States Department of Justice.

This corporation transferred Cienfuegos to Mexico yesterday, after it voluntarily agreed to leave the United States. The military will continue under investigation in Mexico, although for now without stepping on jail.

The government of Mexico promised to continue the investigation initiated against Cienfuegos by the US security agencies, based on which it found evidence linking him to the Beltrán Leyva Cartel.

On August 14, 2019, the US authorities presented before the New York Court the charges against Cienfuegos Zepeda, whom they identified with the nickname of El Padrino or Zepeda.

Cienfuegos was arrested on October 15, in Los Angeles, California. The government of Donald Trump insisted that he was a dangerous criminal, at the service of organized crime and with a protection network at the highest level.

However, yesterday, in a hearing of just 20 minutes, Judge Carol Bagley was notified of the unprecedented decision of the US Department of Justice to withdraw the accusation against the general.

The judge questioned the prosecution if said agreement had been taken at the highest level. The prosecutor in the case, Seth D. DuCharme, reported that the agreement came from the office of prosecutor William Barr.

He explained that he was weighing between the accusation against Cienfuegos and the interests of the United States-Mexico bilateral relationship. “The United States determined that the broader interest in maintaining that cooperative relationship outweighs the Department’s interests in pursuing this case,” he said.

Then the judge endorsed said agreement, considering that “there is no reason to doubt” the agreement or the will of Mexico to investigate the military.

At the hearing, Cienfuegos was questioned almost 10 times by the judge on procedural issues and agreed to waive his rights and voluntarily leave the United States.

In addition, he questioned whether he was “afraid of persecution” in Mexico; the general replied: “No, ma’am.”

In the evening, in the United States, Judge Bagley Amon was notified that the transfer to Mexico was successful.

TIMELINE

Strained relationship

October 15th

Salvador Cienfuegos, Secretary of Defense during the administration of Peña Nieto, is arrested at the Los Angeles airport in California during a family trip.

October 21

The Foreign Minister of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard, and the United States Ambassador to our country, Christopher Landau, meet to discuss the general’s arrest.

October 26th

Marcelo Ebrard speaks with the United States attorney, William Barr, and expresses “dissatisfaction” with the DEA investigations in Mexican territory.

October 28

The Mexican government sends a diplomatic note to the American Union due to the lack of information on the investigation into the former secretary.

November 6th

The Attorney General’s Office requests the evidence that the US authorities have against Mexican General Salvador Cienfuegos.

November 17

The United States dismisses the criminal charges against the former head of National Defense, including drug trafficking and money laundering.

From the arrest of the Mexican general to the dismissal of the cases, the US-Mexico bilateral relationship experienced tense moments.

Source: El Financiero

Democrats see risk of impunity

The decision of the United States Department of Justice, endorsed by the judge of the Eastern District Court of New York, to dismiss the accusations against General Salvador Cienfuegos and send him back to Mexico, free of criminal charges in the American Union, generated Alerts on Capitol Hill.

Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez, a member of the Upper House Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that “there is no explanation whatsoever to clarify the decision of Attorney General (William) Barr, to abruptly drop the drug trafficking charges against General Cienfuegos “, And warned that the determination of the Donald Trump administration could” promote impunity “in Mexico.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of MexicoAndrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico Nicolás Tavira

“Prestige of the Army was at stake,” says the President

The prestige of the Armed Forces was privileged in view of the alleged relationship between the Mexican military and drug trafficking, as declared yesterday by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, after the withdrawal of charges in the United States against the former Secretary of National Defense, Salvador Cienfuegos .

The evidence presented by the DEA (United States Drug Control Agency), which led to the arrest of the general in California, and the three charges for drug trafficking and one for money laundering, were dismissed by the US justice, but also by the Mexican government, which would have taken at least 27 days to obtain the evidence.

Yesterday, minutes before the decision of the judge of the Eastern District of New York, Carol Bagley Amon, the President of Mexico came out to stop the “speculation”, again highlighted a relationship of respect with President Donald Trump for his collaboration, and He asked for confidence in the Mexican justice system and in the head of the Attorney General’s Office (FGR), Alejandro Gertz Manero, who will now carry out the corresponding legal procedure.

“We cannot allow, without elements, our fundamental institutions to be undermined,” warned López Obrador, in yesterday’s conference, which served to break down the actions of the Federation to intercede for the general who until a few hours ago was called The Godfather , and was considered a criminal with “incentives to flee.”

“The prestige of a fundamental institution for the Mexican State is at stake,” he declared.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard was in charge of publicizing the diplomatic journey implemented by the Federation after the arrest in California on October 15.

On October 28, the foreign minister had a telephone conversation with the US attorney general, William Barr, to express “the deep discontent of Mexico,” and it was on October 30 when our country received a letter signed by Timothy Shea, director of the DEA, with a 743-page file related to the general’s arrest; It was until November 11 that the corresponding evidence was received.

The Mérida Initiative “has been terminated”: SRE

For the federal government, the phase of cooperation between Mexico and the United States, promoted by former presidents Felipe Calderón and George W. Bush to combat organized crime, known as the Mérida Initiative, “was without effect.”

This is what the Secretary of Foreign Relations said, warning that said initiative “must be redone”, since the same vision is not shared, and – in his opinion – the United States has not been asked, not even a helicopter.

“The instruction that the President has given us is not to apply those resources as was being done to buy weapons, helicopters,” he stressed, without giving more details about the program created in 2008, which, until the end of last year, had reached the 3 billion dollars disbursed by the United States to Mexico.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced in May of last year that his government’s strategy would be to promote development and employment for Central America and southeastern Mexico, in order to discourage migration to the United States, and at the time announced investment of 4 one billion pesos in national territory and 5 billion in Central America, instead of support from military and intelligence equipment, as in past six-year terms.

During his participation in the National Palace conference, the Foreign Minister also referred to the competition and activities carried out by the DEA in Mexico, and announced that, for two years and to date, there are 50 US agents accredited to work in Mexico, and that they are limited to investigative work.

“As long as they respect Mexican law, they cannot substitute for the agents of our police forces,” he said.

Liberation of Cienfuegos in the US divides political parties

The decision of the United States to exonerate General Salvador Cienfuegos of drug trafficking offenses and ties to organized crime divided the parties in Mexico.

The leader of Morena, Mario Delgado, explained that “diplomacy has its times, its balances and its forms,” ​​and said that “as Mexicans we must congratulate ourselves for the work of the Mexican government and our diplomatic service in the case of General Cienfuegos.” .

The national president of the PRI, Alejandro Moreno, maintained that his party “resolutely” supports the accused military man. “The national PRI resolutely supported General Salvador Cienfuegos. We should all congratulate ourselves and always support our Armed Forces, Sedena and Semar, ”he tweeted.

The national leader of the PRD, Jesús Zambrano, demanded that “the legal status with which General Salvador Cienfuegos will return to Mexico be clarified”, accusing that his arrest was “a setup for electoral purposes (of Trump) and Mexico was simply part of a game ”.

In the Senate, the presidents of the National Defense commissions, Higinio Martínez, and of the Navy, Eruviel Ávila, celebrated the decision.

According to the Morenista Higinio Martínez, the Armed Forces were injured: “Now this absurd detention has been corrected. It is not only for General Cienfuegos, it is for the sovereignty of our country ”.

The PRI Eruviel Ávila celebrated that “thanks to the good offices of the Executive”, justice is done to General Cienfuegos: “a man of integrity, with an impeccable career, but a great Mexican institution such as the Army is also recognized and honored of our country ”. With information from Amilcar Salazar, Eduardo Ortega and Víctor Chávez