Salvador Cienfuegos, the soldier who could end up in the US like García Luna and Mexico prevented it
Photo: Omar Torres/AFP/Getty Images
When the world was still experiencing the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, news came from the United States that shed light on dozens of Mexicans who had suffered harassment by the Army, and it was the arrest of General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, who served as head of the Secretary of National Defense (Sedena) during the six-year term of Enrique Peña Nieto. But none of that happened, well things took an unexpected turn and the man was released.
According to the information that the United States provided at the time of the capture of Cienfuegos, which occurred on October 15, 2020, the DEA was investigating him for alleged links to an organized crime group and for various crimes that he committed in collusion with him. The former official was targeted for the intervention of calls and messages from Juan Francisco Patrón Sánchez, aka the “H-2”but a testimony pointed directly to him.
Although the American anti-drug agency already had him in their sights, it was only on suspicion, because the drug lord and cartel hitmen referred to him as Zepeda or El Padrino. It was another official arrested for drug trafficking in the United States who pointed it out directly: Edgar Veytia.
The same man who was a witness for the prosecution in the trial of Genaro Garcia Lunarecounted that when he was Nayarit's prosecutor, Governor Roberto Sandoval made pacts with organized crime, which they broke when the violence escalated. In an operation they tortured and murdered a hitman who shouted: "I am people from Cienfuegos". He added that the marines executed several hit men "because they had too much information."
With the evidence collected by the DEA, it was expected that a great trial would come, like the one seen with García Luna, but that did not happen. General Cienfuegos was returned to his country, many people celebrated it and thought that this would solve cases such as the disappearance of the 43 normalistas from Ayotzinapa, but everything remained hopeful.
The Government of Mexico headed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador did not welcome the arrest of Salvador Cienfuegos and argued that he was not notified in advance about an investigation against him, so he began to "move his pieces."
According to the newspaper El País, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the US ambassador to Mexico at the time, Christopher Landau, to his office, and asked him to see with his own eyes the file against the former head of the Sedena. They sent him 700 pages of research.
Through some pressure, such as expelling DEA agents from Mexican territory, Cienfuegos was able to return to his country. The United States Department of Justice requested the dismissal of the criminal charges against the general, since in the end they did not have a fully solid investigation.
A month after his arrest, he arrived in Mexico. The expectation of what would happen here was great, experts believed that the general had to speak about all the arbitrariness committed by the Army during his management at the head of the Sedena, it was believed that by speaking some cases would be resolved, but the General Prosecutor of the Republic (FGR) determined not to exercise criminal action against Cienfuegos. Besides, they said the DEA evidence against him had been fabricated.
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