Mexico clears the general, publishes American evidence against it

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obredor has accused the US Drug Enforcement Administration of enforcing drug trafficking charges against the country’s former Secretary of Defense, as his government published pages of hundreds of US files – which are meant to show detailed evidence of the man. Close relationship with a drug gang.

The decision to discredit US prosecutors on Friday adds a crisis in security cooperation for President-Elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration, clearing a top official of the allegations.

It follows the Mexican government’s decision to ban US agents and remove their immunity, which seems to be a slap in the face after US efforts to appease Mexico by releasing retired General Salvador Sinfuegos to Mexico.

The US Department of Justice said it was “deeply disappointed” by the closure of the case against Cienfuegos. It also stated that the publication of the evidence violates a legal aid treaty and calls into question whether the US can continue to share information.

It also stated that the published material demonstrated the strength of the evidence against Cienfuegos.

López Obredor has lavished on the military for a wide range of projects well beyond security. In this case, he said that while many Mexicans view American courts as “good judges, innocent …”, in this case, with all due respect, those who did not conduct this investigation with professionalism.

His administration then published a 751-page file that was shared by US officials to explain what the purpose of the Mexican prosecution of Sianfuegos was. The BlackBerry Messenger exchange between the severed smugglers was marked: “Shared according to court order, which was not for any distribution.”

It was unclear whether the release of the documents would affect other US court cases.

The US government dropped its charges against Cienfuegos in a diplomatic concession in Mexico in November and sent him home, where he was immediately released.

Lopez Obredor said on Friday that Mexican prosecutors had dropped the case because the evidence shared by the United States had no value to prove that they had committed a crime.

“Why did they investigate this way?” Lopez Obredor said. “Without support, without proof?”

The released documents include text messages allegedly intercepted between the leader of the H-2 cartel based in the Pacific offshore state of Nayarit and a top aide who was allegedly served as a go-to service along with the general , Often referred to as the “Godfather”. “At one point” Salvador Sinfuogo Cepeda. “

In an exchange, Daniel Silva Gait told his boss, Juan Francisco Patrón Sanchez, that he had been picked up by men with short, military-style haircuts, and for a meeting with “The Godfather” of the Department of Defense in Mexico City Was taken to headquarters. “

Silva-Garat tells her boss to “The Godfather” “Now we’re going to do big things with you … what you’ve done is short time.”

Patrón Sanchez says he wants the precious route to repatriate drugs from Colombia and the Silva Garrett texts, “He says that as long as he is here, you will be free … that they will never have strong operations, “Or raid.

Silva Garat tells his boss to “The Godfather” that, “You can sleep in peace, no operation will touch you.”

Other exchanges describe the Godfather offering to arrange a boat to help transport drugs, introduce traffickers to other officers, and agree to help other traffickers in the past.

Speaking at his daily news conference on Friday, López Obredor, who has made the fight against corruption the subject of his administration, insisted that his government would cover for anyone.

“We are not going to create crimes. We are not doing anything, ”he said. “We have to act based on facts, evidence, realities.”

The US Department of Justice issued a statement saying that if Mexico fails to do so, it can still resume prosecution of Cenfuegos. And in Thursday night’s statement, Mexico’s attorney general’s office announced that it was closing the case by completely clearing the general.

The office said in a statement, “General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda had never had any meetings with the criminal organization investigated by the US authorities, and also that he had never had any communication, nor did he have those individuals. Carried out acts to protect or help them. “

It stated that Cienfuegos had not received any illegal or unusual income, nor had any evidence been found that “he had issued any order favoring the criminal group in question.”

Gladys McCormick, who was an associate professor of history at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, said that it is only surprising that Mexico did not do better at Cienfuegos.

“One would think they would have followed through at least some example of an investigation, even if it’s just to put some window dressing on the illusion that the rule of law exists,” McCormick said. “From the Mexican side, this indicates deep-seated control over the military as an institution in power.”

Lopez Obredor has given the military more responsibility than any president in recent history, relying on it to deliver large-scale infrastructure projects and the recent COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to expanded security responsibilities. .

Cienfuegos was arrested in New York in 2019 after being secretly convicted by a federal grand jury. He was accused of conspiring with the H-2 cartel to smuggle thousands of kilos of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana while he was Secretary of Defense since 2012. On 2018.

Even though the US sent Cienfuegos home, a few weeks later Mexico’s Congress passed a law that would prohibit US agents in Mexico and remove their diplomatic immunity.

Mike Vigil, former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, international operations, said clearing Cienfuegos “may be the straw that broke the camel’s back as US-Mexico cooperation in counter-drug activities.”

“It was premeditated that Mexican justice would not proceed with the general Cienfuegos prosecution,” Vigil said. He said, “This will have a very bad effect on the integrity of the judicial system and despite the political rhetoric of eliminating corruption, this is clearly not the case.” The rule of law has been grossly violated. “


AP author E. in Mexico City. Eduardo Castillo contributed to this report.



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