The U.S. Department of Justice has said that it is withdrawing charges of money laundering and drug trafficking against the former head of the Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional so he can be investigated in Mexico.
William Barr, the Attorney General of the United States, announced the withdrawal of the drug trafficking and money laundering charges against General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda. He will be freed in the U.S. and sent back to Mexico as a free man, however, he is to be investigated by Mexico’s Fiscalía General de la República (FGR).
“In recognition of the strong alliance on law enforcement between the United States and Mexico, and in the interest of demonstrating our unity front against all forms of crime, the United States Department of Justice made the decision to dismiss criminal charges in the United States against Secretary Cienfuegos, so that he can be investigated and appropriately charged under Mexican law,” Barr announced in a press release.
“The Attorney General’s Office (FGR), after learning of the arrest and the charges that the United States imputed to General Cienfuegos, opened its own investigation,” Barr said.
“At the request of the FGR, the United States Department of Justice, under the intelligence exchange -information- treaty that prevails between the two nations, has provided evidence in this case and undertakes to continue cooperating in the framework that supports the investigation by the Mexican authorities,” he added.
Charges against the former Secretary of National Defense have been dropped in the U.S. after Cienfuegos spent more than a month in detention. He was arrested at an Los Angels airport October 15 after being accused of three drug trafficking crimes and one of money laundering.
After learning of the U.S. announcement, the Secretary of Foreign Relations (SRE), Marcelo Ebrard said that Cienfuegos will continue his process in Mexico since the accusations against him were committed in Mexican territory.
“Whoever is culpable according to our laws will be tried, judged and if applicable sentenced in Mexico, and not in other countries, and that is the basis which has been encouraged with this agreement,” said Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard. “That is what has been discussed, what has been agreed and what has been maintained with U.S. authorities.”
On Thursday, Seth DuCharme of the Department of Justice announced the release of the general. “In compliance with the order issued earlier today by the court, the government is writing to confirm that the US Marshalls Service successfully transported the accused (Cienfuegos Zepeda) to Mexico,” says the brief document.