Former Mexican defense secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, who led the country’s army for six years under ex-President Enrique Peña Nieto, has been arrested on drug trafficking and money laundering charges at Los Angeles International Airport, US and Mexican sources told the AP Thursday. Two people with knowledge of the arrest said Cienfuegos was taken into custody on a US Drug Enforcement Administration warrant. One of the people said the warrant was for drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly. The DEA declined to comment Thursday night.
Mexico's foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, tweeted that US Ambassador Christopher Landau had informed him of the retired general’s arrest and that Cienfuegos had a right to receive consular assistance. Cienfuegos served from 2012 to 2018 as secretary of defense under Peña Nieto. He is the highest-ranking former Cabinet official arrested since the top Mexican security official Genaro Garcia Luna was arrested in Texas in 2019. Garcia Luna, who served under former President Felipe Calderón, has pleaded not guilty to drug trafficking charges. Cienfuegos is 72 years old and has retired from active duty. Mexico’s Defense Department had no immediate reaction to the arrest.
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