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Mexico Exonerates Former Defense Minister of Drug Related Charges

By VOA News January 15, 2021

Mexican prosecutors are not going to pursue criminal charges against a former defense minister arrested in the United States for allegedly collaborating with Mexico's most powerful drug cartel, the office of attorney general said in a statement.

U.S. law enforcement arrested Salvador Cienfuegos, a member of former president Enrique Pena Nieto's government, at Los Angeles international airport in October.

His arrest sparked diplomatic tensions between the two countries. In November Cienfuegos was sent to Mexico to face a possible trial.

Mexican officials said Cienfuegos presented evidence in five days that completely disproved the U.S. claims.

"The conclusion was reached that General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda never had any meeting with the criminal organization investigated by American authorities, and that he also never had any communication with them, nor did he carry out acts to protect or help those individuals," the statement said.

Further, the Mexican statement said that no evidence suggested that Cienfuegos had any illicit or dubious income or "that he had issued any order to favor the criminal group in question.''

Mexico prosecutors dropped all the charges against Cienfuegos, therefore fully exonerating him.

Mike Vigil, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief of international operations, said in a television interview with Mexican broadcaster Milenio that "this is a very big stain on the Mexican justice system."



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