Federal law enforcement officials arrested General Salvador Cienfuegos, Mexico’s former defense minister, late on Thursday night for allegedly using his office and military power to assist a drug cartel that poured massive quantities of illicit narcotics into U.S. cities.
Authorities made the arrest immediately after Cienfuegos, 72, landed at Los Angeles International Airport. It is unclear why he had traveled to the U.S. or felt no risk in stepping onto U.S. soil.
“I always said that it wasn’t just a crisis, but a decadence that we were suffering from,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said. “It’s regrettable that a former defense minister is detained, accused of ties to drug trafficking.”
Cienfuegos served as defense minister from 2012 to 2018 in the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has also been linked to drug trafficking. The New York Times reported last year that Nieto “took a $100 million bribe from Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the infamous crime lord known