A former Mexican defense minister was arrested in Los Angeles, California, on Thursday for drug-related corruption in Mexico, according to the Mexican government.
Former Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda faces drug and money-laundering charges, a federal law enforcement official in New York said, the New York Times reported.
Zepeda is the first high-ranking military official to be in U.S. custody for these charges, according to the Times.
“There has never been a minister of defense in Mexico arrested,” former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castañeda said, according to the Times. “The minister of defense in Mexico is a guy that not only runs the army and is a military man, but he reports directly to the president. There is no one above him except the president.”
Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister confirmed that Zepeda was taken into U.S. custody Thursday night.
He sido informado por el Embajador Christopher Landau de los Estados Unidos que el ex Secretario de la Defensa Nacional, Gral. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, ha sido detenido en el Aeropuerto de Los Angeles, California.
— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) October 16, 2020
Information on Zepeda’s charges were not immediately available, the Times reported. The Drug