Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says the arrest of retired general Salvador Cienfuegos, the country’s minister of defense from 2012 to 2018, on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warrant at Los Angeles International Airport last week, is another example of the “decomposition” of the civil service that prevailed under previous administrations.
Cienfuegos, 72, is accused of accepting bribes from a Mexican cartel allowing it to ship thousands of tons of cocaine into the United States. In December 2019, Genaro Garcia Luna, the public security minister in the cabinet of President Felipe Calderon (2006-2012) was arrested in Dallas on charges of taking millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa cartel.
López Obrador, however, expressed his surprise that Cienfuegos had worked so closely, and for so long, with U.S. authorities without any flags being raised. The former general was not under any investigation in Mexico at the time of last week’s arrest.
López Obrador has confirmed that none of his current senior defense officials were appointed on recommendations from Cienfuegos.